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red-tailed hawk lead poisoning
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Red-tailed hawk found dead of lead poisoning in Zion National Park

Zion National Park officials shared this photo of the dead red-tailed hawk, killed by lead poisoning, on Facebook.

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Officials at Zion National Park say a red-tailed hawk starved to death near Watchman Campground in March, but toxicology results showed a remarkably high level of lead in its liver.

According to a post on the Zion National Park Facebook Page, the bird ingested a dead animal who was hunted with lead ammunition; this is the second year in a row this species of bird has died in the same area for the same reason.

Park officials are urging hunters to use non-lead ammunition, not just to protect red-tailed hawks but also the more rare and endangered California condor.

According to the post, “Lead poisoning is the number one risk to condors, even if they live in a place where hunting is prohibited. Condors travel great distances to find food and wildlife doesn’t know the locations of the park boundaries.” 

Ingesting somewhere between .6-1 parts per million (ppm) of lead can be fatal for birds. The park says the red-tailed hawk had a remarkably high level of lead in its liver at 2.9 ppm.