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Environmental contaminants in California condors

June 16, 2010

Five wild Califorinia 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.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1988
Title Environmental contaminants in California condors
DOI
Authors Stanley N. Wiemeyer, J. M. Scott, M.P. Anderson, P.H. Bloom, C. J. Stafford
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Series Number
Index ID 5220778
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center