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Lead poisoning stymies condor recovery

Iconic species may not stand on its own without complete shift to nontoxic ammunition

The California condor’s return to flying free in the wild after a close brush with extinction may be an illusory recovery.

The hundred-plus condors soaring over California swallow so much lead shot as they scavenge carcasses that the population can’t sustain itself without steady medical care and continual resupply from captive populations, says toxicologist Myra Finkelstein of the University of California, Santa Cruz. She and colleagues describe analyses of lead in blood and feathers June 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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