September 6, 2021 | By:

Grand Canyon Condors Still Imperiled by Lead

California Condor Flying

California Condor Flying (Credit Jim Shuler, Utah DWR)

By Kim Crumbo, The Rewilding Institute Wildlands Coordinator

Twenty-four years after the first release of this federally listed Endangered species, California condors in Arizona and Utah remain imperiled.[1] The primary threat to California condors is eating carrion—on which the condor depends for its entire diet—contaminated by spent lead ammunition used by hunters.[2] Replacing lead with non-lead ammunition results in a significant decrease in lead poisoning of bald eagles, golden eagles, turkey vultures,[3]  California condors, and countless other scavenging animals. The overwhelming scientific evidence demands the elimination of toxic lead ammunition as a management priority.[4] The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have the authority and responsibility to eliminate this serious threat to wildlife, especially to the endangered California Condor.

California Condors

The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), with a wingspan of 9.5 feet and weighing up to 25 pounds, is the largest land bird in North America.[5] It is also among the rarest and most imperiled birds in the world.[6] During the Pleistocene Epoch, California condors were found from southern British Columbia to Baja California, and eastward throughout the southern United States and northern Mexico to Florida.[7] Historical observations indicate that they were widespread and locally abundant from southern British Columbia, Canada, to Baja California, Mexico.[8] Like so many other wildlife species, California condor population and range declines correlated with Euro-American settlement of the West.[9]

While condors can live over 60 years, they reproduce slowly. The bird reaches sexual maturity at 5-7 years of age,[10] and the female lays only one egg every two years. As early as 6 weeks after hatching, California condor chicks leave the nest cavity but remain in the vicinity of the nest where they are fed by their parents.[11] The chick takes its first flight at about 5.5 to 6 months of age but does not become fully independent of its parents until the following year.[12]

By the mid-20th century, condor populations had dropped dramatically, and by 1967 the California condor was listed as “endangered” by the federal government under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966.[13] The bird is also considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN).[14] Congress passed the significantly improved Endangered Species Act (ESA)[15] in 1973 “to provide a program for the conservation of…endangered species and threatened species” and “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered…and threatened species depend may be conserved.”[16] The ESA established an affirmative obligation for the federal government to “seek to conserve endangered…and threatened species.”[17]  “Conserve” and “conservation” are defined by the statute as using “all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered…or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided” by the statute are no longer necessary.[18]

In 1982, only 23 California condors survived world-wide. By 1987, all remaining wild California condors were placed into a captive breeding program beginning an intensive recovery effort to save the bird from extinction.[19] Once the captive breeding program increased to more than 50 individuals in 1990, the first two birds were released into the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Ventura, California. Seven years later, six condors were released atop what is now Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.[20]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency whose mission includes recovery of endangered species, developed a recovery plan with the primary objective to reclassify the California condor from “endangered” to “threatened” status,[21] and included a goal to establish two geographically distinct self-sustaining condor populations, each with 150 birds in the wild and at least 15 breeding pairs, with a third population retained in captivity.[22]

As of December 2019, there were 329 California condors in the wild, divided among the four release areas: central and southern California (186 condors); Grand Canyon ecoregion of northern Arizona and southern Utah (103 condors); and the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park release site in Baja California (40 condors).[23] There were also 175 California condors in captivity distributed among release sites, zoos, and four captive-breeding facilities.[24]

Threat of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning from eating carrion—on which the condor totally depends—contaminated by spent lead ammunition remains a serious danger to condors.[25] By the end of 2020, 50% of the 213 deaths since 1992 with a known cause were due to lead poisoning through eating carrion contaminated by lead bullets—the major threat to condor survival.[26]

Other Species

While particularly deadly to condors, an agonizing death resulting from lead poisoning also threatens other native creatures since they, too, can ingest animals shot with lead-based ammunition and left in the field. Lead poisoning is reported in 33 raptor species worldwide[27] as evidence supports the likely source of ingested lead in birds of prey is spent lead ammunition.[28] Hunting seasons offer wildlife an abundance of scavenging opportunities in the form of entrail piles, carcasses, and mortally wounded game animals[29] at the cost of elevated blood lead concentrations.[30] Raptors especially have a higher incidence of lead exposure if there is extensive hunting in their foraging areas.[31] Other scavengers – including crows, ravens, magpies, coyotes, foxes, and bears – risk debilitating and potentially lethal exposure by eating wounded or dead upland game birds, doves, rabbits, and big “game” animals.[32] For example, migrant bald eagles feeding on carcasses and gut piles in the Teton Valley, Wyoming exhibit a spike in blood lead levels during elk hunting season.[33]

Eating “game” meat contaminated by lead also poses a threat to human health.[34] For example, tests by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) demonstrated that eating venison and other game can raise the amount of lead in human bodies by 50 percent.[35] Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, particularly for children and fetuses. Low levels can harm children’s developing brains, causing learning disabilities and reduced IQs. High levels can trigger severe neurological problems.[36]

Grand Canyon Condors

In 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing California condors in northern Arizona.[37] During spring through fall, condors now concentrate in Zion National Park and portions of Dixie National Forest in southern Utah. As winter snows make carrion more scarce, most of the birds return to Grand Canyon National Park, the North Kaibab Ranger District, and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.[38]

The unfortunate reality is that nearly a quarter of a century after the initial releases, only 103 condors traverse the vast skies above the ecoregion including Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks.[39] While condors in California are fully protected as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),[40] condors found in northern Arizona, southern Utah, and southern Nevada are considered  as a “nonessential experimental” population[41] with the intention of providing “regulatory flexibility and discretion [to] make a reintroduction more palatable to stakeholders who are concerned about the potential impacts of reintroducing a threatened or endangered species.” In the case of the condors for the Grand Canyon region, this “regulatory flexibility” has perpetuated, at the condor’s expense, an unnecessary deference to some hunters’ insistence to continue the use of lead ammunition within the recovery area. Increased flexibility aside, the “non-essential” classification must still ensure that the reintroduction is likely to be successful and that it will benefit the conservation of the condor and many other species, not condemn these creatures to an agonizing death because of the demands of a few recalcitrant, so-called “sportsmen.”[42]

That current total Grand Canyon condor population includes 3 wild-born fledglings and 10 captive birds recently released to the wild.[43] Because population growth remains slow, the total number of wild California condors is still small and the species requires intensive management for survival,[44] hardly a “self-sustaining population” as required by the recovery plan; nor is the population anywhere near where the protections provided by the ESA are “no longer necessary.”[45]  For reference, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides a useful definition of a  “fully recovered” species as one that is viable, that is at low risk of extinction,[46] and ecologically functional in every part of its range.[47]

Growing the wild population of California condors, including reestablishing them in an unoccupied portion of their historical range, is consistent with the overall recovery strategy to recover the species.[48] The IUCN encourages a “Long-term Potential” approach envisioning plausible conservation efforts and innovations which could occur over the next 100 years.[49] This includes actions that could be taken to eliminate threats (e.g., lead poisoning) and opportunities for habitat restoration and increased connectivity. Arizona/Utah condors have traveled outside the experimental population area, including to northern Utah and southern Wyoming (340 miles) and Colorado (400 miles), where they are fully protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).[50] Unfortunately, condor lead levels significantly increase with age and exposure to lead-infected carcasses as they migrate into regions even more heavily contaminated where no effort is made to reduce the population’s risk of lead poisoning (See Legally Mandated and Voluntary Reduction in Use of Lead Ammunition discussion below).[51] Eliminating the use of lead ammunition, at least on all federally managed lands, is an essential step to minimizing and eventually eliminating this unnecessary and dangerous threat to all wildlife. 

California Condors

California Condors (c) Bob Wick/BLM

Federal Responsibility to Protect and Recover Condors

In addition to ESA requirements, other conservation options exist. Federal land management agencies—including the three major agencies within the condor recovery area: the Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management—have an obligation, and not just the discretion, to manage and conserve fish and other wildlife and their habitats on federal lands.[52] While individual states have broad trustee and police powers over wild animals within their jurisdictions, those powers exist only “in so far as [their] exercise may be not incompatible with, or restrained by, the rights conveyed to the federal government by the constitution.”[53] The states’ trust responsibilities for wildlife are subordinate to the federal government’s statutory and trust obligations over federal lands and their integral resources. In other words, the U.S. Constitution and subsequent federal law grants the federal government the authority to manage its own lands and resources even in the face of objections from the states.[54]

Hunting, fishing, and trapping on US Forest Service lands (e.g., Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest, and Utah’s Dixie, Fishlake, and Manti-La Sal National Forests comprising the condor’s southwest recovery area) are subject to state wildlife laws and regulations, unless those regulations conflict with federal laws or they would permit activities that conflict with land and resource management responsibilities of the USFS or that are inconsistent with the forest plans, policies, or law.[55] The continued use of lead ammunition on national forests jeopardizing wildlife clearly conflicts with USFS responsibilities.

The Park Service’s Role in Condor Conservation

The California Condor’s Experimental Non-Essential Population area includes Grand Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Canyonlands National Parks; along with Cedar Breaks, Sunset Crater, Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments; and Lake Mead and Lake Powell National Recreation Areas – all of which are managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The Park Service Organic Act makes conservation of park resources, including wildlife, a primary management goal,[56] and the NPS’s own management policies recognize that conservation of park resources is “predominant.” This is how courts have consistently interpreted the NPS Organic Act,[57] and issues related to wildlife management come squarely within the purview of this conservation mandate.[58] “Impairment” includes disruption of natural abundance, diversity, and ecological integrity, and is not limited to those impacts that “are so intense or sustained that they result in ‘the elimination of a native species or significant population declines in a native species.’”[59] NPS’s Management Policies direct the agency to maintain as parts of the natural ecosystems of parks all plants and animals native to park ecosystems[60] (e.g., California condors).  NPS is required to preserve, maintain, and restore both native populations of species[61] and their habitats, and to “[minimize] human impacts on native plants, animals, populations, communities, and ecosystems, and the processes that sustain them.”[62]

In addition, the Policies state that NPS will cooperate and work with state and tribal governments, federal agencies, and other land managers to encourage the conservation of species populations and habitats “whenever possible.”[63] In other words, the NPS responsibility to recover the California condors is not limited to activities solely within Park boundaries. Although the Policies are not judicially enforceable, courts have not hesitated to find that deviations from the Policies are arbitrary and capricious.[64] The Park Service can coordinate with regional federal and other agencies to encourage, and if necessary, require them to take actions that protect wildlife that reside or frequent National Park units.

Legally Mandated and Voluntary Reduction in Use of Lead Ammunition

Non-lead ammunition is widely available, affordable, and equally lethal as the lead variety.[65] By switching to non-lead ammunition, hunters can eliminate the potential for lead exposure to wildlife.[66]

In the early 1990s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of lead shot to hunt waterfowl to prevent the premature deaths of millions of waterfowl from lead poisoning.[67] Such efforts to ban toxic lead are vigorously and often successfully opposed by some gun rights and sportsmen groups such as the Safari Club and the National Rifle Association.[68] For example, in one of his first official, fawning gestures to so-called sportsmen groups, Trump’s Secretary of Interior reversed the USFWS’ policy designed to stop the needless, incidental poisoning of millions of wild animals each year by lead that’s left behind by hunters and fishers.[69] While currently conservationists are mobilizing to restore the original ban,[70]  the insidious threat of lead-poisoning extends well beyond our National Wildlife Refuges as a few states seek solutions. California, for example, now bans toxic lead-ammunition,[71] and several laws and voluntary programs to reduce the threat from lead ammunition have been enacted.[72] Nevada also has a regulation mandating the use of nontoxic shot on all Nevada Wildlife Management Areas.[73] In addition to these laws and regulations, voluntary lead-reduction programs are in place in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.[74]

Apparently, most hunters in the Grand Canyon-Zion condor recovery zone act responsibly by using non-lead ammo.  Educational efforts by Arizona and Utah wildlife agencies emphasizing use of non-lead ammunition have significantly reduced the amount of lead ammunition contamination. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported that in 2020 approximately 80% of hunters in the Zion region used non-lead ammunition or retrieved the animal’s “gut pile” from the field.[75] According to Arizona Game and Fish Department, between 2008 and 2019, 88% of hunters voluntarily used ammunition without lead.[76]

Unfortunately, as the current condor population statistics demonstrate, what constitutes a reasonably successful public outreach effort[77] fails to accomplish the imperative of recovering one of the planet’s most endangered species. While we are still awaiting completion of the partial 2019-2020 condor population count,[78] in 2020 only 329 condors are known to have traversed North American skies: 103 in the Grand Canyon ecoregion, 186 in California, and 40 in Mexico’s Baja California.[79] Blood tests reported in the 2019  blood lead testing results showed that 77% of the Grand Canyon-Zion condor population suffered significant levels of lead,[80] with serious levels[81] reported in more than a quarter of the birds tested. The long-term prognosis for this critically endangered species is dire.

Next Steps

Land Use Planning

As describe above, federal land management agencies have an obligation—not just the discretion and authority—to manage and conserve wildlife on federal lands.[82]  Citizens have an opportunity through land use planning processes, including amendments to existing plans, to address and resolve the threat of lead poisoning to our wildlife.

For example, Forest Service regulations require the agency to “avoid actions which may cause a species to become threatened or endangered.”[83] The Forest Service’s 2012 Planning Rule states that for at-risk species—referred to as species of conservation concern (“SCC”)—forest plan components must provide the “ecological conditions to maintain a viable population of each species of conservation concern in the plan area.” [84] The Rule defines “viable population” as a “population of a species that continues to persist over the long term with sufficient distribution to be resilient and adaptable to stressors and likely future environments,”[85] including obvious stressors such as climate change. The Rule also requires establishing population levels for at-risk species as a goal, which is to be achieved by providing ecological conditions and regulating human uses,[86] including hunting.

Reminding the agencies of their legal authorities and obligations to protect wildlife, as well as providing the best available, relevant, and credible scientific findings and recommendations to achieve those ends, strengthens our case for land use plan amendments or revisions. In theory at least, our advice should be appreciated by committed agency planning staff. In any event, it will provide a legal foundation should protest or litigation be necessary.


California recently became the first state to issue a full ban on hunting with lead bullets,[87] but most states and federal land managers still allow the use of lead ammunition to hunt most wildlife. This past January, the Lead Act of 2021 was introduced into the US House of Representatives prohibiting use of lead ammunition on all lands and waters under the jurisdiction and control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.[88] Advocating passage of this legislation in both the House and Senate is a priority to reduce the threat of lead poisoning to wildlife in our nation’s wildlife “refuges.”

In addition, congressional or administrative designation of credible wildlife refugia would be consistent with federal law and policy and could direct the agency to initiate a precautionary approach to protect remaining imperiled species and restore characteristic biotic and abiotic processes—e.g., prohibit use of toxic lead ammunition,[89] and make the ecologically essential role of scavenging safe again for wild animals.

Presidential Designation

The President, under the authority of the American Antiquities Act,[90] retains the ability to designate protected areas, including national monuments, establishing refugia for wildlife among other ecological, historic, and scientific values. Refugia are habitats that components of biodiversity retreat to, persist in, and can potentially expand from under changing environment conditions.[91]


Lead poisoning still remains the major obstacle to condor survival despite voluntary educational efforts. Recovery of a secure, functional population of the Grand Canyon Ecoregion’s critically endangered condors, along with countless other species, demands at the very least the elimination of toxic lead ammunition from the recovery area.[92] The obvious solution to this ecological crisis is removing the source of contamination and requiring non-lead substitutes which are readily available.


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Mateo, R., J. Belliure, J. C. Dolz, J. A. Serrano, and R. Guitart. 1998. High Prevalences of Lead Poisoning in Wintering Waterfowl in Spain. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35:342–347.

Mateo, R., J. Estrada, J.-Y. Paquet, X. Riera, L. Domı́nguez, R. Guitart, and A. Martı́nez-Vilalta. 1999. Lead Shot Ingestion by Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) from the Ebro Delta, Spain. Environmental Pollution 104:435–440.

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[1] USFWS, 2020.

[2] USFWS, 2020; see Meretsky et al., 2000:963; Church et al., 2006:6148; Cade, 2007; Woods et al., 2007:73-75; Green et al. 2008: 9; Walters et al. 2010:993-994; Finkelstein et al. 2012:11452-11453; Rideout et al., 2012:108-109; Kelly et al., 2015:395-398; and Bakker et al., 2017:101-103.

[3] Bedrosian et al., 2012; and Kelly et al., 2011; cited in Slabe, 2019:8.

[4] Craighead and Bedrosian 2008; and Hunt et al., 2009; cited in Slabe, 2019:8.

[5] California Condor Natural History, Center for Biological Diversity, Accessed August 3, 2021.

[6] History of Audubon and the Condor, Audubon California, Accessed August 3, 2021.

[7] USFWS, 2021:15604.

[8] Koford 1953, pp. 8-19; Wilbur 1978, pp. 13, 72-85; Snyder and Snyder

2005, pp. 4-5; D’Elia and Haig 2013, pp. 38-59; cited in USFWS, 2019. See also California Condor, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Accessed August 3, 2021.

[9] USFWS, 2019.

[10] USFWS, California Condor Recovery Program,

[11] Snyder and Snyder, 2000:201; cited in USFWS, 2021:15606.

[12] Snyder and Snyder 2000:201–202; cited in USFWS, 2021:15606.


[14] BirdLife International. 2020. Gymnogyps californianusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22697636A181151405. Downloaded on 04 August 2021.

[15] 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531–1543. Cited in Nie et al., 2017:40.

[16] 16 U.S.C. § 1531(b). Cited in Nie et al., 2017:40.

[17] 16 U.S.C. § 1531(c). Cited in Nie et al., 2017:40.

[18] 16 U.S.C. § 1532(3). Cited in Nie et al., 2017:40.

[19] USFWS, California Condor Recovery Program, 2021,

[20] California Condor Recovery, 2021, Arizona Game and Fish Department,

[21] USFWS, 1996:22.

[22] USFWS, 1996, Recovery Plan for the California Condor, page v,, emphasis added;  See also USFWS, California Condor Recovery Program, 2021,

[23] USFWS, 2021:15605.

[24] USFWS, 2021:15605. Breeding facilities include the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park.

[25] USFWS, 2020; see Meretsky et al., 2000:963; Church et al., 2006:6148; Cade, 2007; Woods et al., 2007:73-75; Green et al. 2008: 9; Walters et al. 2010:993-994; Finkelstein et al. 2012:11452-11453; Rideout et al., 2012:108-109; Kelly et al., 2015:395-398; and Bakker et al., 2017:101-103.

[26] USFWS, 2020. Other threats to California condors include rangeland conversion, wind energy development, collision with and electrocution from powerlines, predation, disease, inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, shooting, microtrash ingestion, pesticides, and habituation to humans. See USFWS, Threats to California Condor Survival,

[27] Pain et al. 2009; cited in Slabe, 2019:7.

[28] Craighead and Bedrosian, 2008; Finkelstein et al. 2010; Harmata and Restani 2013; and  Kelly et al. 2011; cited in Slabe, 2019:7.

[29] Slabe, 2019:7.

[30] Bedrosian et al., 2012; CruzMartinez et al., 2012;  Elliott et al., 1996; and Pain et al., 1997; cited in Slabe, 2019:7.

[31] Mateo et al., 1998; and Wayland and Bollinger, 1999; cited in Slabe, 2019:7.

[32] Craighead and Bedrosian, 2008; Hunt et al., 2009; and Pain et al., 2009; cited in Slabe, 2019:7.

[33] Bedrosian et al. 2012; cited in Slabe, 2019:7. See also CruzMartinez et al. 2012.

[34] Lead in Hunted Meat Poses Health Risk to Families and Food Banks, Adam Wernick, The World, January 5, 2021.

[35] Streater, Scott. 2009. Wild Meat Raises Lead Exposure. Scientific American. September 28, 2009.

[36] Streater, Scott. 2009. Wild Meat Raises Lead Exposure. Scientific American. September 28, 2009.

[37] USFWS, 2021:15605.

[38] SWCWG 2017:8, Figure 2.

[39] USFWS, 2020.

[40] California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Protected Animals, 2021,

[41] 61 FR 54044, October 16, 1996. See SWCWG 2017:3, Figure 1; The 10(j) experimental population area is delineated by Interstate Highway 40 (I- 40) on the south, U.S. Highway 191 on the east (parallel to the New Mexico and Colorado state borders), Interstate Highway 70 (I-70) on the north, and Interstate Highway 15 (I-15) to U.S. Highway 93 near Las Vegas, Nevada on the west.

[42] In 2020, 87% of the 490 “successful” Arizona hunters took actions to reduce lead contamination. Nearly 60% used non-lead ammo, while 20% packed out gut piles. 65 (13%) hunters used lead ammo or didn’t pack out gut piles (Lead Reduction by Year, 2020, Arizona Game and Fish Department,

[43] USFWS, 2020.

[44] USFWS, 2021:15605. These measures include: (1) monitoring a large proportion of condors in the wild to track resource use, identify behavioral problems, and detect mortalities; (2) biannual trapping for health screening, to test blood samples for lead, inoculate for West Nile virus, and to attach or replace wing tags and transmitters; (3) taking injured or poisoned condors back into captivity temporarily to administer treatment; and (4) nest observations and interventions to maximize productivity in the wild.

[45] 16 U.S.C. § 1532(3). Cited in Nie et al., 2017:40.

[46] A spatial unit population is said to be “viable” if the species has a low risk of extirpation in the spatial unit, as determined by the regional IUCN Red List category (IUCN, 2021:9, 19).

[47] IUCN, 2021:8.

[48] USFWS, 2021:15608.

[49] IUCN, 2021:21.

[50] USFWS, 2021:15605; see also SWCWG 2017:2.

[51] Kelly et al., 2014.

[52] Nie et al. 2017:95.

[53] Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S 545 (1976) (citing Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519, 528 (1896); Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 434 (1920). See Nie et al., 2017:24.

[54] Nie et al., 2017:39.

[55] FSM 2643.1 (2016). See e.g., Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Forest Service, D. Arizona 2013 (rejecting a standing causation argument, holding that the USFS has authority to regulate the use of lead bullets to protect California condors) (reiterating this holding on remand, but dismissing the case on other grounds, D. Arizona filed 3/15/17), Louisiana Sportsmen Alliance v. Vilsack, 984 F.Supp.2d 600 (W.D. Louisiana 2013) (Forest plan may prohibit hunting deer with dogs to reduce conflicting uses), Meister v. USDA, 623 F.3d 363 (6th Cir. 2010) (not beyond USFS authority to consider using a forest plan to prohibit gun hunting in areas to be managed for non-motorized recreation). Cited in Nie et al., 2017:65.

[56] Nie et al. 2017: 48-51.

[57] NPS Management Policies § 1.4.3 (2006), available at Cited in Nie et al., 2017:49-50.

[58] Nie et al., 2017:50.

[59] Bluewater Network, 721 F. Supp. 2d at 36 (rejecting NPS’s interpretation of impairment to allow mortality and other “regular” adverse effects to wildlife as a “draconian” definition that was inconsistent the Organic Act).
 Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[60] NPS Management Policies, at § 4.4.1. Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[61] Native species are “all species that have occurred, now occur, or may occur as a result of natural processes on lands designated as units of the national park system.” NPS Management Policies, §
Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[62] NPS Management Policies, § 4.4.1. Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[63] NPS Management Policies, §. Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[64] See Bluewater Network, 721 F. Supp. 2d at 20 (“While these Policies are not judicially enforceable, Wilderness Soc’y v. Norton, 434 F.3d 584, 596–97 (D.C.Cir. 2006), they are “relevant insofar as NPS puts forth the policies as justification for the decision under review,” Greater Yellowstone Coal. v. Kempthorne, 577 F.Supp. 2d 183, 206 (D.D.C.. Cir. 2008)).
Cited in Nie et al., 2017:50.

[65] North American Non-lead Partnership (Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Zoo, The Peregrine Fund, and Institute for Wildlife Studies), 2018,; New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 2021, Choose Non-Lead Ammunition.; The Peregrine Fund, California Condor,, accessed June 24, 2021.

[66] The Peregrine Fund, California Condor,, accessed June 24, 2021.

[67] USFWS, Service Continues to Expand Non-Toxic Options as Study Shows Ban on Lead Shot Saves Millions of Waterfowl, October 18, 2000,

[68] On September 5, 2012, Plaintiffs (Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council) filed suit against Forest Service and Defendants-Intervenors (National Rifle Association, and Safari Club) under the citizen’s provision of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 6972, “to limit the disposal of a known toxin on public lands in northern Arizona and to protect wildlife species threatened by exposure to spent lead ammunition in their foraging range within [Forest Service] land in Arizona.” Plaintiff state that “though the Forest Service has broad authority and responsibility to protect public land and the wildlife found there, the agency has failed to take action to stop the disposal of lead in the form of spent ammunition on Forest Service land.” As a result, Plaintiffs sought judicial review, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, to “stop the continued endangerment to wildlife species occurring within the Kaibab National Forest, and to prevent the harm to the Plaintiffs and their members that has resulted and is resulting from the ongoing endangerment.” In a recent decision, the Court granted the Forest Service’s Motion to Dismiss the case (Case 3:12-cv-08176-SMM, Document 182, Filed 04/01/2021).

[69] Trump’s Interior Secretary Reverses Ban on Lead Ammo on National Wildlife Refuges as His First Official Act. Wayne Pacelle, March 3, 2017, A Humane World,

[70] Restore the Ban On Lead in Wildlife Refuges, Sierra Club,  Accessed July 3, 2021.

[71] Lead Ammunition is Now Banned for Hunting Wildlife in California, KQED, July 1, 2019,

[72] USFWS, 2021: 15607.

[73] USFWS, 2021: 15607.

[74] USFWS, 2021: 15607.

[75] Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Wildlife Blog, October 7, 2020. See also The Peregrine Fund, California Condor,, accessed June 24, 2021.

[76] Arizona Hunters Urged to Use Non-Lead Ammo to Guard Condors, Associated Press September 30, 2019.

[77] California Condors: Rescued from the Brink of Extinction, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, September 2019,

[78] USFWS, 2021.

[79] USFWS, 2021. See also California Condor Recovery Program. 2017 Annual Population Status.

[80] ≥15 ug/dl. See California Condor Recovery Program. 2017 Annual Population Status.

[81] ≥65 ug/dl. See California Condor Recovery Program. 2017 Annual Population Status.

[82] See Nie et al., 2017:95.

[83] USDA Departmental Regulation, 9500-04 (

[84] 36 C.F.R. §219.9(b)(1) (2016). 36 C.F.R. §219.9(b)(1) (2016). Agency planning policy requires that species identified by states as being at risk be considered as potential SCC. Forest Service Handbook 1909.12 §1252d(3).

[85] 36 C.F.R. §219.9(b)(1) (2016).

[86] Nie et al., 2017:61.

[87] California Becomes First State to Ban Lead Bullets for Hunting, Bloomberg Law, July 1, 2019.

[88] H.R. 405—Lead Endangers Animals Daily Act of 2021 or Lead Act of 2021

[89] See Talty et al., 2020.

[90] 16 USC 431-433.

[91] Kepple et al., 2011.

[92] Craighead and Bedrosian 2008; and Hunt et al., 2009; cited in Slabe, 2019:8.

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