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Vultures Under Fire

Within the last month, Tucson Wildlife Center has received multiple vultures (Black Vultures & Turkey Vultures) that have been affected by wildlife shooting in some capacity. Shown in the second photo is what is found in one of the recently admitted vulture’s throats. This vulture was down and starving due to nine steel pellets from a shotgun blast. Then, he resorted to eating trash after not being able to fly and find food. He would have survived this in rehabilitation had he not endured three to four weeks of starvation prior to admission.

The other three vultures were affected by lead poisoning. The Turkey Vulture shown is the lone survivor amongst these recent intakes. Lead poisoning happens when the bird eats a deceased animal that has been shot with lead ammunition. This type of ingested ammunition will seep into the bloodstream of the unintended target once it has been eaten and kill it. Lead poison commonly kills condors, eagles, other birds of prey, and mammals across the country with only some animals making a complete recovery.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, an estimated 10 to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the US. As of 2022, the only state to ban lead ammunition for all wildlife hunting is California with other states have pushed for the ban to no avail. Tucson Wildlife Center is strongly in favor of banning lead ammunition for hunting in Arizona to give our wildlife, who might become secondary poisoning victims, a better chance at life.

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