FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tests show three California condors found dead in northern Arizona last month died because they ingested lead pellets while feeding on carrion.
Condor recovery program officials said Monday that the deaths are the first from lead poisoning in three years among condors in Arizona and Utah. The Peregrine Fund recovered the bodies of a female condor, her year-old chick and a young male.
Condors feed on dead animals, often big game killed by hunters or the entrails left behind when they are field dressed.
Arizona has a voluntary lead-free hunting program in condor areas, and Utah is starting one. California has banned lead ammo in condor areas.
There are about 350 condors alive today, with about half in captive breeding programs.