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Sun, Oct. 20

Arizona expands options for hunters to obtain non-lead ammo for use in condor range

A California Condor tagged and monitored by Grand Canyon National Park. Photo/NPS

A California Condor tagged and monitored by Grand Canyon National Park. Photo/NPS

PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has expanded its options for big game hunters drawn for hunts in the California Condor's core range to obtain non-lead ammunition for their hunts.

Non-lead ammunition will now be available at all regional Game and Fish offices in some of the most popular calibers. Hunters are encouraged to check the region's current inventory by visiting www.azgfd.gov/condor. before making the trip, as not all calibers may be available. Inventory will not be replenished once it is out of stock at the Game and Fish offices.

Non-lead ammunition may also be obtained in person at any Sportsman's Warehouse or Cabela's. Theses department and other retail partners will honor the coupon through the mail-in process only. Cabela's in-store pick up will not be available this year.

AZGFD encourages hunters to check the department's condor webpage for current inventory availability at the regional offices prior to making the trip and asks hunters not to call to check inventory.

If desired non-lead ammo is not available through the department's regional offices or Sportsmen's Warehouse, AZGFD asks hunters to fill out the card that accompanied hunting tags and to follow mail-in instructions.

For hunters using the mail-in card, a physical address and phone number should be provided for follow-up in the event of a problem with the order.

The coupon is valid for one box of loaded ammo or one box of bullets for reloading their own ammunition, and only for upcoming hunts. Coupons are invalid after the hunt has closed.

According to AZGFD, non-lead ammo now comes in many calibers and grain weights and from multiple manufacturers.

Hunters in Arizona have demonstrated unwavering support for the non-lead ammunition program with 85 to 91 percent of hunters in the condor's core range voluntarily participating in lead reduction efforts over the past seven years.

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 the carcass or gut piles they leave in the field usually contain 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.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which coordinates condor management with Arizona Game and Fish, also offers a similar lead reduction program in southern Utah to address the birds' more frequent foraging in the state.

More information on condors and lead and a list of available non-lead ammunition can be found at www.azgfd.gov/condor.

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