The prevalence of lead in Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) occurring within the recent historical range of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) was determined by analyzing blood samples from 162 Golden Eagles captured between June 1985 and December 1986 at three sites. We found no significant differences between sex and age classes in blood lead levels nor were there differences between residents and migrants. Significant differences were found between months with the highest blood lead levels occurring during the fall/winter period. Approximately one-third (35.8%) of the Golden Eagle population sampled had elevated blood lead levels, values similar to those reported for free-flying California Condors. Given this rate of exposure, if the proposed releases of California Condors back to the wild are to succeed, whether in their former range or elsewhere, any potential for lead poisoning must be reduced. It is essential that we identify the sources of the lead, the seasonal and geographic distribution of these sources, and develop management strategies to reduce or eliminate the hazard.
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Lead hazards within the range of the California condor