A new study in Wyoming proves that reducing the number of toxic lead bullets used by hunters lowered the lead levels of local ravens -- but unfortunately didn't affect the lead levels in eagles. Since the start of a voluntary nonlead-bullet program in the state last fall, lead-bullet use among Wyoming hunters has dropped by 24 percent, corresponding nicely with a 28-percent decrease in the amount of lead found in the bloodstreams of ravens, which scavenge hunter-shot carcasses. But eagles, which also scavenge but are extra-sensitive to lead, apparently received no benefit from the small decrease in lead-bullet use. That means eagles need an environment totally free from lead contamination. Said a spokesperson on the study, "It's kind of a no-brainer."
Severely endangered California condors are also extra-sensitive to lead poisoning from lead bullets -- in fact, it's the leading cause of condor death. So after a petition and lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, California mandated the use of nonlead ammunition throughout the bird's state range. The Center is now pushing hard for nonlead requirements across the country for the sake of condors, eagles, and all other species (including humans).