If you hunt and you still use lead bullets – well, we get it. Lead, as Yurok Tribe biologist Mike Palermo tells the Times-Standard today, is "very dense and very malleable ... [t]hat's what makes it a fantastic projectile. When it hits a deer, it expands and mushrooms out."
But you really should switch to non-lead ammo — in fact, the Yurok Tribe strongly encourages it and is offering to let you swap your lead for some almost-as-good copper. Sure, copper's harder, so not as moldable as lead. But copper bullets can go deeper, and thus be more deadly, Palermo explains – and they, too, expand on impact, but unlike lead bullets they don't spray into a million bits inside the animal.
That's better for California condors (and other scavengers), who feed on gunshot carrion left behind by hunters. Biologists consider lead poisoning among the biggest threats to the endangered condor. The Yurok Tribe wants to reintroduce the condor to Yurok land; encouraging hunters to stop using lead bullets is one step toward preparing the best possible new home for the enormous birds.
If you have lead bullets and want to do right by the condor (and other critters), you can exchange them for copper bullets at occasional events held by the Yurok Tribe. There's one such bullet exchange today, at 6:30 p.m., at Sequoia Park Zoo, 3414 W St. in Eureka. You can trade one box per caliber, per person. There will also be an ammunition demonstration.
To learn more about the Yurok condor reintroduction plan, check out our story "Fixing the World."