Effect of lead ammo ban reversal on scavengers, human cities

On March 2, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke overturned a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle in federal wildlife refuges, which was enacted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Jan. 19, one day before the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The Obama-era ban was designed to protect wildlife from lead poisoning. Scavengers, including vultures and the California condor, are particularly prone to lead poisoning because they consume the “gut piles” left behind from hunters’ field dressing of animals. If the hunter used lead bullets, the gut piles can be littered with toxic lead fragments. California’s lead bullet ban was instrumental in the recovery of the California condor from the brink of extinction, which took three decades.

Biologists Evan Buechley and Çağan Şekercioğlu are available to comment on how scavenger loss can bring disease to both wild ecosystems and developed cities.

Says Şekercioğlu, a native of Turkey: "I had made progress trying to convince Turkish officials to also enact the lead bullet ban, at least locally in eastern Turkey, and I was using the US as an inspiring example. As with many things the US does, this will also have a global impact."

Evan Buechley, doctoral student, Department of Biology, 505-614-7231,[email protected]Çağan Şekercioğlu, associate professor, Department of Biology, 801-585-1052, [email protected]