Ban will buoy giant birds

After years of debate over the threat of lead to the endangered condor, the California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to increase the scope of the state’s ban on ammunition containing the toxin.

Nearly extinct by the late 1960s, condors, North America’s largest flying bird, have been an endangered species for three decades. For years scientists have been pointing to lead as one of the culprits in the species’ decline. The birds ingest it by eating animal carcasses shot with lead-containing ammunition.

Earlier this year, the Legislature banned deer hunters from using lead ammunition in condor habitat, which includes the Big Sur and Ventura areas, as well as the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. The new regulation broadens that ban by applying it to smaller-caliber weapons. It goes into effect July 1.