View Full Version : Endangered California condors still face lead poisoning threat

06-25-12, 04:00 PM
As is the case with most birds that eat carrion, lead poisoning has long been a concern for the condors. When large animals are killed by a hunterâ??s lead bullet but not harvested, they can become a dangerous meal. When the birds eat the meat, they can ingest lead particles along with it.

Researchers compiled the results of over 1,100 blood samples taken from 150 California condors between 1997 and 2010. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children with blood lead levels above 450 ng/ml undergo treatment, and this is roughly the level at which the condors are taken in for treatment as well. About 20 percent of the birds sampled each year exceeded this level, and 48 percent of individuals living in the wild exceeded it at some point during the 14-year period. Blood lead levels as high as 6,100 ng/ml were seen.

The feathers showed that after ingesting lead, the birdsâ?? blood concentrations exceeded 450 ng/ml for about a month. Unsurprisingly, blood samples often miss the peak lead concentrations, which were 1.4x to 14.4x higher. About 34 percent of the average feather history was higher than the level at which the condors are treated.

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