Condor advocates target lead bullets

Posted: November 27, 2017 at 2:16 a.m.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — An effort to bring one of the world’s largest birds back from the brink of extinction is expanding after northern Arizona and southern Utah found success in getting deer hunters to use ammunition not made of lead.

A group working to protect the endangered California condor is setting its sights on small-game and varmint hunters as lead continues to threaten the birds that feed on animal carcasses. The group has enlisted the help of a social scientist to target its messaging to a broader set of hunters who are not always after big game.

The condors nearly went extinct in the 20th century because of lead poisoning, hunting and habitat destruction. The last of them were rounded up and bred in captivity to recover the species.

Arizona and Utah have mailed letters to deer hunters, given them free non-lead ammunition and hosted shooting clinics for hunters to test the feel of copper bullets. The states also have offered raffles for those willing to drop off animal carcasses.