California Condor
© Douglas Croft

California Condor

What Defenders is Doing

Lead Poisoning

Although the Department of the Interior recently reversed an order to phase out the use of lead ammunition by 2022 on more than 150 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges and other agency lands and waterways, Defenders is helping address the threat of lead poisoning from ammunition in California. Since 2007, California has required the use of non-lead ammunition for hunting in condor territory in an attempt to reduce the chronic lead poisonings of this critically endangered, iconic species. 

Defenders and our partners also worked with the California State Legislature to pass a bill requiring a statewide ban on lead ammunition for hunting that was successfully signed into law and will go into full effect by July 2019. 

With this substantial progress made, Defenders continues to advocate for an end to lead ammunition for hunting on all public lands, particularly on national wildlife refuges. Our legal case to end the use of lead bullets on Forest Service land is still pending before the courts.

Unfortunately, lead ammunition still makes its way into condor habitat and until it is removed from the environment entirely, the California condor won’t survive on its own. It only takes a tiny amount of lead to poison animals, causing immense suffering before killing them.

Condor Habitat  

Defenders and our partners were successful in halting new oil and gas leasing throughout the Los Padres National Forest by taking the U.S. Forest Service to court. 

Defenders is also working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as renewable energy companies, to develop long-term “smart from the start” wind and solar energy development plans that protect key landscapes, including condor habitat.

We also engage with wind energy producers, and are closely tracking the progress of federal policies that could determine how wind energy projects are impacting condors. We meet regularly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer our expertise as they create and implement these important regulations.


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Success Story
April 2015 - California adopts final rules for eliminating lead hunting ammunition to protect wildlife and health.
Success Stories
October, 2013 - Thanks to extensive outreach and advocacy from Defenders and our partners, CA Governor Brown has signed historic legislation into law that requires the use of non-lead ammunition in hunting.
Where We Work
The Golden state is home to millions of wild birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish that need our help.