Harold Staat (“COMMUNITY VOICES: Do legislators have our best interests in mind?,” May 14) surmises that after his extensive use of lead ammunition at a shooting range followed by a blood test showing no ill effects of lead that legislators acted blindly to removing lead from ammunition. He failed to mention that animals, killed or wounded by lead bullets, have fragments of lead inside their bodies. Lead has historically been used as ammunition because of this characteristic. It fragments upon impact, causing great damage to muscle tissue, thus enhancing death.
However, not every animal hit by a lead bullet is found by the hunter. Many stray off and die. But we do have birds that are designed as “nature’s garbage collectors.” Such birds as crows, ravens, turkey vultures and eagles are some of the most observed by us. However, the most iconic bird, a member of the vulture family, is the California condor. Ingestion of meat from the carcass of dead animals means also ingestion of lead. With a population of only 27 in 1983, it became apparent that a capture breeding program was needed to preserve the species. It also demanded the removal of lead from ammunition if the breeding program was to be successful. Result: Today there are more than 1,000 condors, from California to Arizona and Utah. This is the historic range of the condor.
The Audubon Society, endorsed by its members and the scientific community, has long supported removal of lead from ammunition. Legislators do have our best interests in mind and interest in birds. I do not think Mr. Staat would argue against the Kern Audubon Society’s slogan: “Birds Matter!” If the state legislators had ignored science and the public’s will, our local ice hockey team would have to place on its jersey, above the patch of a condor, a label that would read “Extinct!”
Harry Love, president of the Kern Audubon Society