Non-Lead Ammunition Program Designed to Protect Condors

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Photo courtesy of Lynn Chamberlain - DWR

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Press Release

A non-lead ammunition program has expanded in southwestern Utah this year. The program should reduce the number of California condors that get lead poisoning after eating the remains of big game animals.

In addition to knowing they have helped the birds, hunters who use non-lead ammunition on the Zion hunting unit will be eligible for prizes. Hunters who use lead ammunition on the unit will also be eligible if they remove from the field the remains (also known as gut piles) of the animals they take.

Prizes hunters can win include a 2014 Honda Rancher 400 ATV or one of five hunting rifles.

Utah’s non-lead program is patterned after a program the Arizona Game and Fish Department started in 2005. Since 2007, Arizona officials report 80-90% of those who hunt in areas where condors live in Arizona have taken voluntary actions to reduce the amount of lead condors are exposed to. Those actions include using non-lead bullets or hauling gut piles out of the field.

“A similar response by Utah hunters may be all that’s needed to ensure this unique bird can survive in the wild once again,” says Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologist Keith Day.

Greg Sheehan, director of the Utah DWR, does not believe a ban on lead ammunition is necessary. “We’re confident hunters will step up to protect condors in the state,” he says. “We don’t have any intentions of proposing or supporting legislation that would ban the use of lead ammunition in Utah.”

Sheehan states that in 2012, 50% of those who hunted in the Zion unit used non-lead ammunition. “Our sportsmen are readily adopting the program,” he say. “They’re demonstrating again why hunters and anglers are the best stewards of wildlife North America has ever known.”

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