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Environmental Contaminants in California Condors

Stanley N. Wiemeyer, J. Michael Scott, Marilyn P. Anderson, Peter H. Bloom and Charles J. Stafford
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 52, No. 2 (Apr., 1988), pp. 238-247
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801228
Page Count: 10
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Environmental Contaminants in California Condors
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Abstract

Five wild California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) that died in 1980-86 were necropsied and tissues were analyzed for environmental contaminants. Three died of lead (Pb) poisoning, 1 presumably of cyanide (CN) poisoning, and 1 nestling of handling shock. Organochlorine concentrations were low in 4 condors that were analyzed for these contaminants. Blood samples from 14 wild and 14 captive condors were analyzed primarily for Pb. Five of 14 wild condors sampled had elevated (>0.70 ppm) concentrations of Pb in blood whereas Pb concentrations in all captive condors were low. Lead levels in individual birds often fluctuated over time. Lead exposure, especially poisoning, was a major factor affecting the wild California condor population during 1982-86. The probable source of Pb was bullet fragments in carrion on which condors were feeding.

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