From: Associated Press
Published June 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Condors Seen at Risk for Lead Poisoning

PINNACLES NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif. — Wildlife officials laid traps for California condors to test for lead poisoning after many were spotted feeding on squirrels that had been shot.

Even microscopic lead traces from ammunition can paralyze digestive systems in the endangered species and cause the birds to starve to death, park officials said.

The traps were laid over the weekend after 11 of the park's 13 condors were seen feeding on the squirrel carcasses, said Denise Louie, the park's chief of natural resources.

Highly contaminated condors will be taken to the Los Angeles Zoo for surgery or treatment.

"We don't know who shot the rodents or why," Louie said. "If rodents have to be shot, maybe their carcasses can be buried to protect not only condors but other carrion eaters and raptors."

The species was listed as endangered in 1967 but the population has grown to about 300 birds after intensive breeding efforts. Pinnacles is a longtime California condor breeding area.

Source: Associated Press

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