Gearing Up For A Hunt? Don’t Forget The Non-Lead Ammo

Hunters asked to continue voluntary lead-reduction efforts this fall.

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Gearing Up For A Hunt? Don’t Forget The Non-Lead Ammo


PHOENIX — -( Arizona hunters have proven their long-held commitment to wildlife conservation by voluntarily working to reduce the amount of lead exposure to endangered California condors, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is encouraging all hunters to join the effort this fall.

In the last 10 years, 87 percent of hunters in Arizona’s condor range have voluntarily used non-lead ammunition during their hunts or, if they used lead ammunition, removed the gut piles from the field. AZGFD reminds hunters that if they have trouble finding non-lead ammunition, they can still support condor recovery by removing gut piles from the field that were shot with lead ammunition.

Hunters that remove their gut piles (lead ammunition only) are eligible to be entered into a raffle that offers prizes including an elk hunt on the Navajo Nation, Phoenix Zoo Total Experience Tickets, Cabela’s gift cards and other prizes generously donated by multiple wildlife conservation partners.

“Hunters in Arizona have always been true partners in wildlife conservation,” said Allen Zufelt, AZGFD condor program coordinator. “It’s encouraging that most of our hunters continue to voluntarily support the use of non-lead ammunition to benefit our state’s wildlife. Achieving nearly a 90-percent voluntary participation is a clear demonstration of our hunters’ commitment to condor management.”

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which coordinates condor management with AZGFD, has implemented a lead-reduction program in southern Utah. As the condor population has become more established, the birds have increased their foraging area and now use southern Utah heavily during the fall hunting season.

Lead poisoning has been identified as the leading cause of diagnosed death in endangered condors and the main obstacle to a self-sustaining population in Arizona and southern Utah.

Studies suggest that lead shot and bullet fragments found in animal carcasses and gut piles are the most likely source of lead exposure. Many hunters do not realize that the carcass or gut pile they leave in the field usually contains lead bullet fragments. Gut piles from animals harvested with non-lead ammunition provide an important food source for the condors and should be left in the field.

Arizona’s condor population was reintroduced to the state under a 10(j) Rule, a special provision of the Endangered Species Act that designates the population as experimental and not essential to the species’ survival. The 10(j) rule was used to obtain acceptance among communities in Arizona and Utah and assures that “current and future land…uses…shall not be restricted due to…condors” and that the federal government did “not intend to” modify or restrict “current hunting regulations anywhere…in the experimental population area.”

Arizona Game and Fish DepartmentInformation on non-lead ammunition and how hunters can help is sent by mail to those drawn for hunts in condor range. For more information on condors and lead and a list of available non-lead ammunition, visit

Did you know?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department conserves and protects Arizona’s 800+ wildlife species but receives NO Arizona general fund tax dollars. Contribute to our on-the-ground conservation efforts at

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John Dunlap

I am not averse to using non-lead ammunition, or to the goal of reducing lead and other heavy metals in our environment. Many newer bullets perform as well or better than the old cup and core bullets. I can’t speak to shotshell performance. However, it is obvious that the science has been hijacked to achieve a political goal, and no, it isn’t simply the end of hunting. This is yet another angle on the slow, soft-kill of firearms ownership. Four questions that tell the tale when considered together are, what one round is the vehicle by which the vast majority… Read more »


Actually they found in Condor autopsies that their gullets were full of aluminum pieces and other trash and garbage left by people and NO lead shot from firearms.


Total BS , show me a photo of a condor out of Ca .! I live in ca. In the open centeral valley and have never seen a condor flying over head heading to the east mountain, They stay on the coast of Ca. If you go back to the original plan of fish and game it was a small land mass protecting them on the coastal range And like a cancer grew to all of Ca. . Now transplanted fish and game staff from Ca want to bring their idea of removing hunting from the people that pay their… Read more »

Dogma Factor

This is total BS. The Condor study has been proven to be totally false. Upon reviewing the field samples collected the lead came from lead based paint used on towers the Condors choose to roost and nest on in Southern California. None of the samples taken to date from dead or living Condors in any study has been proven to be from lead shot or lead bullets being consumed or ingested by eating carrion containing lead material. All the dead Condors found to date that contain lead were killed outright by being shot themselves, a few have been found containing… Read more »

Joseph P Martin

What a crock! The USFWS began this phony environmental crap when they banned lead shot for migratory waterfowl, which was based upon fake research and that opened the door for lead bans all over the nation. Anyone who buys into this anti-hunting, anti-shooting bullsh*t and complies with it is supporting a total ban on lead, which is the ultimate goal of this “non-toxic” movement. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Bloomburg and PETA were supporters of this garbage.


Sorry JP but you are wrong on this one. I was part of your so called “the fake research” on ingested lead poisoning in 1980 & 82. Ingested lead shot is clearly identifiable from other types of lead when you dissect the bird’s crop & gizzards. My colleagues and I dissected thousands of birds (at Universities and other labs throughout the US) some of which injested lead and some of which did not. Otherwise healthy birds which did injest had massive internal bleeding and organ failure. Read all about it in the Journal of Wildlife Management and other biological publicationd… Read more »