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Condor Project: Backdoor gun control and/or an attempt to secure additional funding for a failing program? (Updated)


Condor Lead Ammunition Ban Expanded by Court Settlement

"A legal settlement approved by the Court has expanded the lead ammunition ban currently in place in Condor “range” in California, an expansive area in south and central California.  The settlement requires the California fish and game agencies to ban the use of lead ammunition for killing animals under “depredation” permits, effective immediately.  The settlement also requires the agencies to propose a regulation in May 2009 banning lead ammunition in the taking of jackrabbits and other hares, several species of rabbit, and tree squirrels in Condor range.  The groups involved in the lawsuit, including the Center for Biological Diversity, have vowed to push for a ban on lead ammunition for all hunting throughout the state."


Note how judicial settlements are used by the corrupt environmental movement to achieve goals which they cannot achieve by popular vote. -- Perhaps someone needs to sue the California Department of Fish and Game under to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to access all research results and payments made to Condor advocates. REMEMBER CARRYING AN UNLOADED WEAPON AND LEAD BULLETS CAN MAKE YOU GUILTY OF A CRIME EVEN IF YOU NEVER LOAD THE WEAPON OR SHOOT ANYTHING.


Via Safari Club's "In the Crosshairs" e-mail bulletin ...

"Hunting in California Condor Range – Confusion High; Turnout Low"

Original blog entry ...

Perfect people for a pristine planet …

For those of you who are not “perfect people for a pristine planet” loons, one must regard the far-left’s incursion into the environmental movement as dangerous. One, because they seem to subvert the environmental sciences with shoddy reports based upon nothing more than speculative conjecture. And two, because they artificially manipulate the environment to produce pre-ordained results in support of their not-so-hidden political agenda.


The first question involving the Condor : is there any legal or moral justification for expending time, effort and money to save a species which has no real utility and which apparently has lost its ability to take care of itself?

The second question: what are the ramifications of letting nature take its course?

And the third, and most important question: excluding those who have a vested interest involving their livelihood, is there any real credible evidence that what has been reported is scientifically and statistically valid? Especially when we are dealing with such small sample sizes.

The condor … an ugly bird that feeds on dead and decaying bodies of wildlife ...

Capture8-10-2008-2.48.48 AM

These birds have become exotic pets for the amusement and livelihood of their handlers … Most of whom employ the techniques of falconry to control the bird’s habits.

According to the Los Angeles Times …

“Survival of California condors hangs on lead ban, study says”

They depend on man-made 'feeding stations' of lead-free carcasses, a practice that has damaged their ability to forage.”

Any species which has lost its instinctual ability to forage and protect itself is a “pet.” It is no longer a wild animal capable of meeting natures demands. If it is a pet, treat it like a pet. Put it in a zoo or other protected habitat for all to see.

“Scientists call for removal of such [lead] ammunition.”

It is amazing that scientists, and we question which scientists are making the claims, do not recognize that there are sources of lead in nature other than that found in lead bullets as well as alternative explanations for the death of these birds.

It is also amazing that the scientists do not ban every piece of shiny junk metal found anywhere as condors seem to be fond of eating copious quantities of this “junk food” which leads (no pun intended) to perforated innards and infection.

“The California condor, rescued from extinction in an elaborate and expensive recovery effort, has become tantamount to a zoo animal in the wild and can't survive on its own without a ban on lead ammunition across its vast western ranges, a scientific study has concluded.”

Elaborate and expensive measures are required due to those who have a vested financial and political interest in using this scavenger to insure that their projects are funded and their mandates followed.

“The majestic scavengers, bred in captivity and released to nature in recent decades, require ‘constant and costly human assistance,’ a blue-ribbon panel of the American Ornithologists' Union reported this week.”

Wow! A “blue ribbon panel.” And they came up with these facts: the bird is unable to survive in the wild without extraordinary and costly measures which inconvenience everybody involved.

Again, why do we need to preserve these birds that feed on carrion –the polite word for road kill and dead carcasses?

“They must be frequently trapped, tested and treated for lead poisoning.

“They depend on man-made "feeding stations," a buffet of lead-free carcasses of rats, deer, stillborn calves and other animals, a practice that has damaged their ability to forage.”

Has anybody considered that the continual trapping and handling of these birds amounts to a further shock to their immune system?

As for natural reproduction, the yearlong study found that the condors' nesting success was ‘nil’ before intense intervention last year to vaccinate chicks for West Nile virus and surgically remove ingested refuse such as rags, nuts, bolts, plastic and bottle caps.

Isn’t it somewhat unnatural to inoculate wild birds against naturally occurring disease? As to removing “junk” that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Human aid has led to "inappropriate behavior" of the condors, which are attracted to people and man-made structures, the 57-page report found. The gregarious birds perch on utility poles, risking electrocution and, in Southern California, have taken to soaring with hang gliders and mingling with humans to pick through food wrappers.

People exhibit inappropriate behavior, condors do whatever nature compels them to do.

Wonderful, now we tell the power company that they must bury all of their transmission lines lest a poor bird be electrocuted. Since the flock is so-small, exactly how many electrocuted birds have they actually found?

“So much effort is required to feed, nurse and protect wild condors, the scientists wrote, "that one might argue that they constitute little more than outdoor zoo populations."

OK, a honest answer. So why do we need to ban lead bullets if it is proven that there are a host of other causes for dead birds and that no one has ruled out lead which occurs in and around the numerous abandoned mines in the area?

“Since the last wild condor was captured in 1987, federal and state agencies, zoos and conservation groups have spent tens of millions of dollars breeding more than 300 birds in captivity. About 150 have been released to fly free over forests and deserts in California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Baja California.”

Million dollar birds – or should I say some well-paid scientists and support groups? Does that mean that the ban on lead bullets is going to get bigger and bigger until the probability of finding a bullet in a dead animal eaten by a condor is effectively nil? Then what excuse will the politically active environmentalists do to mandate gun control?

“Condors -- North America's largest soaring birds -- have survived on the continent since the Pleistocene epoch. With a wingspan of up to 9 feet, they fly as far as 150 miles a day to forage. But with the disappearance of large mammals, such as mountain lions, they tend to feed on carrion left by human hunters.”

Obviously this is not the entire case as the study has pointed out that they are returning to man-made feeding stations. Perhaps we should re-introduce mountain lions?

“Last year, $5 million was spent on condor recovery efforts, including $1.2 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Arizona-based Peregrine Fund spent more than $1 million each, and the Los Angeles Zoo, which operates on damaged birds, spent more than $500,000, according to the report.”

Does anybody want to bet that the majority of money was spent on salaries and support infrastructure that had very little value other than to those who were directly employed or whose organizations received the funding?

“Government and private wildlife groups ‘cannot be expected to expend funds indefinitely to maintain condors in nature,’ the study said. ‘Progress toward recovery is not sustainable under current conditions because reintroduction of more condors simply increases the costs required to keep wild birds alive.’”

The government is run for the benefit of people, not animals and that even if guns were totally banned from the face of this earth, the condor would still find ways to die. The mere fact that it takes an inordinate amount of intervention to preserve a species with little or no scientific value just because it can be done, makes little or no sense.

“The six scientists on the panel have not been involved in the condor recovery program. Led by biologist Jeffrey R. Walters of the Avian Ecology Group at Virginia Tech University, they called for ‘an extensive outreach effort to rally support for replacement of lead ammunition’ in condor territory and nationally.”

Now the true colors emerge: replacement of lead ammunition in condor territory and nationally. These people may not be part of the condor recovery program, but their conclusions seem formed from the literature produced by those who are involved in the condor program.

"Poisoning from ingestion of spent ammunition in carcasses is so severe and chronic,’ the panel concluded, ‘that condor recovery cannot be achieved so long as such lead exposure continues.’"

There are far more lead sources in nature and in lead-sheathed electrical wiring than there are in random lead bullets in hunter-killed game. Prove me wrong!

And based on 300 birds and sketchy supposition, we are supposed to take political action to ban lead in bullets and totally decimate an activity which has been around forever?

'”But they also noted that humans who ingest meat from game can suffer adverse effects from lead: ‘Removing lead ammunition is not only right for condors, it is right for other scavengers, and it is right for hunters and their families.’"

How many hunters who eat their catch have developed symptoms of lead poisoning? As a shooter, you are more likely to ingest more lead at firing ranges than in the wild where far less bullets are fired. As for the “it’s right for …” slogan, this is political “sounds good” bumper sticker science at its worst. Show me the evidence.

“The report called on the Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the recovery program, to ‘increase the visibility of its leadership.’"

But only if that leadership is politically correct and does what the far-left environmentalists want!

An agency spokeswoman concurred that lead has had ‘a significant impact on condors’ and said the service has already begun to implement some of the report's recommendations, including outreach to hunters.

She is a media person, so where do you suppose she got her talking points from … her concurrence with anything is virtually worthless.

Hunters, being the original environmentalists, do more for conservation and the thoughtful management of game than does all of the bureaucratic apparatus of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Also, the service supports adding more feeding stations, but farther afield so that birds will forage more widely.

This is sheer lunacy. Expand the territory so feeding the remaining condors becomes prohibitively expensive. Or is it just that they want to expand their bullet ban?

“The National Rifle Assn. and other hunting groups have fought restrictions on lead bullets, which are cheaper than copper varieties.”

When has the National Rifle Association been asked to sit down with these so-called environmental experts and scientists and form a consensus opinion based upon the facts.

As for the cost of ammunition, it is almost irrelevant to any hunter. It is more a factor to target shooters who expend prodigious amounts of ammunition in short periods of time.

And what’s so great about copper …

“Copper is an essential trace nutrient to all high plants and animals. In animals, including humans, it is found primarily in the bloodstream, as a co-factor in various enzymes, and in copper-based pigments. However, in sufficient amounts, copper can be poisonous and even fatal to organisms.” <Source>

So how long will it before a blood test shows copper in a bird dying from other natural causes, causes a "necessary" ban on copper bullets. Face it, the problem with these political activists is bullets, period! It doesn’t matter which type or their composition. These people want to disarm America as part of their political agenda and seem quite content using the co-opted environmental movement to do this.

One bullet company seems to support the ban simply because they make one of the only qualified bullets at the present time. I personally will no longer support the Barnes company or use their products – including their Copper X-bullets.

Nonsensical law …

Last year California became the first state to pass a law prohibiting hunters from using lead ammunition within the condor's 2,385-square-mile range. Lead is banned for shooting big game, such as deer, antelope, bear and non-game species, such as feral pigs and coyotes. Smaller game, such as birds and rabbits, can still be killed with lead bullets.

This makes absolutely no sense. First only one or two shots are used to bring down a big-game animal. And hunters do not leave the dead animal in the field to rot. People are more inclined to shoot the more plentiful smaller animals and leave them in the field if they are hard to retrieve – which defeats the whole purpose of the ban on lead bullets. Something wacky here – and I am willing to bet it’s the environmentalists.

Education is not the answer …

“The law is ‘a huge step forward,’ Walters said. But the panel interviewed state officials, local conservationists and hunters, and found that enforcement ‘may be highly problematic. . . . California Fish and Game has done little to educate hunters . . . and [non-lead] ammunition is not readily available or identifiable in many retail outlets,’ according to the report.”

Poachers are not hunters …

“’ Poachers kill large numbers of animals and are ‘unlikely to comply . . . as long as lead bullets are easily purchased,’ the study found.”

What moron wrote this section. Poachers by definition commit illegal acts? This is like the fallacy of gun control. You will be disarming the honest law-abiding public so that only criminals who care not one whit for the law will have weapons. Stupidity, squared. It should be noted that poachers are not hunters. But most of them are also not wanton killers. Killing large numbers of game for the sheer pleasure of the kill.

Many poachers are not really poachers in the context that is being cited. They may be “out of season” hunters or someone who wants to bag a protected trophy, but they still do not generate the type of kill numbers that might poison a population of wide-ranging condors. And the simple answer is: poaching is illegal, go after the poachers and leave the honest, law-abiding hunters alone.

A subsidy?

“Despite a California law that provides subsidies to hunters to buy more expensive non-lead bullets, the state has yet to fund it.”

Must have been a far-left liberal democrat who wrote the law as they needed to offer subsidies! Hunters in California, as well as elsewhere, are good stewards of the land. They are true conservationists and know the effects of over-hunting. They know about conservation and game management. And if there was a true and correct scientific case for modifying their behavior, they would simply adopt the new restrictions.

“California Fish and Game Commission officials said they have made considerable efforts to inform hunters, but a spokesman acknowledged that enforcement of the ban ‘will be a real challenge,’ given that only 200 wardens cover the entire state.”

Now we see another benefit of supporting the lead bullet ban. It allows state agencies to secure additional funding and enlarge their personnel roster. More money is always a great motivator – even in the face of scientific facts.

“Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Baja California do not restrict lead ammunition. But in Arizona, a voluntary program issues coupons to hunters to cover the additional cost of copper bullets and has had an 85% success rate, according to state officials.”

85% success rate – what does that mean? 85% fewer hunters use lead bullets or that 85% more coupons were redeemed over the last reporting period?

Wider and wider the net is cast …

“The report found that despite Arizona's effort, condors are still being poisoned there. Given the condors' low reproductive rate, ‘a virtually 100% compliance rate’ would be necessary to maintain the species.”

This is nonsense. The bird is systematically being acclimated to humans and feeding stations. Even if you grew the flock of condors to 1,000 – then what? They still will be unable to fend for themselves in nature.

If it is the condor’s time to go the way of the wooly mammoths, so be it.

Reality: their position is flawed?

“Ban proponents base their case for the legislation on a 2006 University of California-Santa Cruz study contending that lead from bullets and bullet fragments left in carcasses or gut piles is a major contributor to poisoning in condors. A scavenger by nature--much like vultures in other parts of the country—the condor’s primary food source is carrion.

“[The NRA’s Hunting Manager, Darren]LaSorte also brought into question the data used by the legislature, saying a new scientific review provided to the Commission reveals that previous science attempting to link lead ammo and condor mortality is severely flawed.”

Junk food?

“Of 13 breeding attempts by Critically Endangered California Condors Gymnogyps californianus in the wild in southern California between 2001 and 2005, only one resulted in successful fledging. A paper published in Bird Conservation International finds that “ingested anthropogenic material” -swallowed junk -was directly responsible for the deaths of two condor nestlings, and is strongly implicated in the deaths of several more.
Four dead nestlings and two removed from the wild held substantial quantities of junk such as glass fragments, metal bottle-tops, washers, cartridge cases, electrical wiring and plastic pipes.

“By contrast, of nine chicks produced between 1980 and 1984, all but one fledged successfully. ‘Current levels of junk ingestion clearly surpass that found in the historical breeding population,’ the authors assert. ‘The deleterious effects of junk ingestion on condor nest success now seriously threaten the long-term re-establishment of a viable, self-sustaining breeding population in southern California.’” <Source>

Which makes the case for condor-lovers to sponsor trash clean-ups rather than lead bullet bans.

The results …

“Only 75 condors remain in the wild in California, despite a $40-million, 25-year restoration effort by government and private groups to save the species from extinction.”

“A number of leading scientists believe bullets caused the lead poisoning blamed in the deaths of as many as 12 condors in the state and the sickening of 16 more.” <Source>

Fact: in order to secure additional funding and extend the program, they need a scapegoat and a plausible story why the efforts have not resulted in a greater success. And note the discrepancy in the number of birds existing in the wild!

What can YOU do?

Consider the fact that hunters are more likely to be environmentalist than your typical far-left liberal “trendy” environmentalist.

Decide why we should expend time, effort and millions of dollars to raise condors as exotic pets who serve absolutely no purpose and whose very existence must be artificially sustained by man.

Demand that the scientists and others sit down with the National Rifle Association and listen to their case – come away with a sensible program if one is necessary.

Demand that all political action agenda items be removed from discussions involving science and the management of wildlife.

Demand that poachers be apprehended for the scofflaws and criminals they are. Tell those who use the term “hunter” in the same breath as “poacher” that they do not know what they are talking about.

Remember, with many in the environmental movement, it is not about condors or bullets – it’s really about gun control and the disarming of the American citizen.

And always, remember: follow the money. The trail might not be pretty, but it is often enlightening.

Look on the bright side: at least they haven’t blamed this on global warming – yet!

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.” -- John James Audubon

Full disclosure: I am a life member (benefactor level) of the NRA, a hunter and a target shooter.

A reminder from a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Survival of California condors hangs on lead ban, study says - Los Angeles Times

Status of the California Condor and Efforts to Achieve its Recovery|Audubon Society

Junk ingestion and nestling mortality in a reintroduced population of California Condors Gymnogyps californianus  ALLAN MEE, BRUCE A RIDEOUT, JANET A. HAMBER, J. NICK TODD, GREG AUSTIN, MIKE CLARK and MICHAEL P. WALLACE Bird Conservation International (2007) 17:1-13.

Donald Smith of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Using isotope analysis, they showed that ammunition is a likely source of the lead in the blood of released condors (Environmental Science & Technology, vol 40, p 6143).

Note: evidence exists that the isotopic lead signatures in the study are not unique and can be produced by lead from other sources. This is the study which is said to be flawed.

“While knowledge about the lead ammunition ban within condor range is extremely high among hunters, the number of sportsmen participating in the A zone deer season is off this year, according to Department of Fish and Game wardens patrolling the hunt zone. …  Roland Takayama, DFG warden captain for the Ventura and Santa Barbara county area, said that while virtually all hunters contacted during the A zone opener in late August knew about the non-lead ammunition requirement, there was still confusion about what ammunition was legal.   

... He also said that a lot of hunters -- because of the cost of the new ammunition and gasoline -- simply didn't show up to hunt this year. The wardens' anecdotal car counts and hunter contacts show that participation was down by 50 to 70 percent, depending on area.  Takayama said he spoke with hunters in one camp who said some of their relatives just decided not to do it anymore because it was getting too expensive. For hunters who would purchase $8 boxes of .30-30 ammo, the idea of now paying $50 or $60 for that ammo, combined with $4-plus per gallon gasoline, kept many of them home.”   

Excerpted from article by Jim Matthews, The Sun, San Bernardino and the Inland Empire, 09/12/2008.  See the full article at

“Nullius in verba”-- take nobody's word for it!
"Acta non verba" -- actions not words

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS