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Hunters’ Ammo Choices Key to California Condor Comeback – CBS San Francisco

TEHACHAPI, California. (CBS News) – The California condor is the largest land-flying bird in North America. What is not visible to him makes up for it with splendor. Its nine-and-a-half-inch wings make a great impression if you’re lucky enough to see it all the time.

Or 20.

In May last year in Texas, Sinda Michols came home and found that 15-20 condos had landed on top of her house. Such a scene was impossible only three decades ago. At the time, there were no California condoms left in the wild.

In the late ’80s, several of California’s last condominiums were brought into captivity to save the species from extinction. Since then, ravens have been reared and are slowly returning to the wild. Now their number is more than 500 – the number of those small enough that biologists still list them all.

Chris Parish, director of global conservation at the Peregrine Foundation, showed reporter Conor Knighton a white board of “retired” numbers: “They’re all here and not where you want your number because these birds are past.”

California Condor - General

Female condominium in Zion National Park, Utah in 2019. (National Park Service via AP)

Although the appearance of condors in our skies is definitely a success story, the extinct birds are still struggling. Eventually the researchers understood why. According to Parish, “Fifty-four percent of the deaths of our population, which we control, are lead poisoning.”

Tin is a dangerous neurotoxin. It is also what most ammunition is made of. Birds die from gunshot wounds. They will not be shot by them; they literally eat lead.

“Pulling wild animals, like condors, is mandatory – they only eat dead things,” Parish said.

The problem is this: When hunters kill an animal like a deer, they often leave some of the remains behind. But they can inadvertently leave small pieces of lead that can be found in condoms when they are eaten.

“Some of those tiny pieces that have been used by bullets that have been used for 100 years can poison wildlife,” Parish said.

At the edge of the Marble, Ariz., The Parish group inspects the traps and the condors. Most of them have lead levels, so they treat the birds and release them once they are healthy.

Nathan asked, “Right now, you’re trapping them, trying them, treating them, releasing them, but it seems like this will continue to happen again and again if the ammunition doesn’t change?”

“We are in the form of maintenance,” Parish replied. “We have a good real understanding of what the problem is and we know how to solve it. Now, we have to solve it. ”

But resolving this can feel like a long blow.

Parish is on a mission to persuade hunters to hunt with ammunition, such as copper bullets, demonstrations across the country. It’s a world he knows well: “I’m a biological species of hunter, and these hunters are my people.”

Unfortunately, copper ammunition is usually more expensive, harder to find, and not something people are used to.

“It’s hard to change tradition,” Parish said. “It’s not that simple, ‘Look at science, that’s logic and do it right.’ We don’t live in that era anymore, you know? And the people who sell the products are very effective in marketing. The people who work in nature conservation.” We’re not really good at marketing! ”

In 2019, California introduced a nationwide ban on lead supplies for hunting, but California condoms have also been found in Utah and Arizona, states where there are no bans.

Parish doesn’t believe the answer is: “We’re speeding, but people are breaking the law, too.” And I’m not saying hunters are a bunch of bad actors; I’m just saying that if they don’t understand it, maybe they’ll write it as an unnecessary piece of legislation that isn’t really a problem. “

“It seems like it’s very difficult to enforce the law when you go into the woods,” Knighton noted.

“It’s almost impossible.”

Instead, Parish advocates a voluntary approach. He, along with an informal North American partnership, has laid the groundwork for access to hunters. So far, the answer is encouraging: About 90 percent of deer hunters in the Arizona highlands are now hunting with lead or taking out the rest.

“We know hunters can only solve this problem,” Parish said. “So, pointing to them and saying, ‘You’re doing a bad job,’ it won’t work. You have to refer to the ethics of nature conservation and the history of their conservation: ‘This is another opportunity that we as hunters can meet for all criteria.’ , where we live, to create a healthier environment, not just the ones we hunt for future generations to enjoy. ‘”

One day, Parish hopes to hunt down hunters across the country with alternative ammunition to protect all the scattered animals. Until then, he always gets the word out to help make progress.

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Hunters’ Ammo Choices Key to California Condor Comeback

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