Re "Back in the Wild, Condors Succumb to Old Nemesis: Lead," June 10: Banning the use of lead bullets on public lands can help save not only endangered condors but people and the environment. Spent bullets from recreational shooting are one of the major sources of lead pollution in the United States. A typical outdoor shooting range can become contaminated to Superfund levels after just a few years' use.
Despite the costly problems of cleaning up abandoned sites, protecting nearby water from lead contamination and treating lead-poisoned kids, many cities, counties, parks districts and other jurisdictions throughout California maintain shooting ranges, at least in part with public funds. In some cases, these facilities were even built with federal grants. Since there is no safe level of exposure to lead, government-subsidized shooting ranges make as much sense as including cigarettes in school lunch programs.
Thanks for your excellent article on the plight of the condor. Sympathetic organizations should not be shy about soliciting help from hunters. Most hunters are very environment-conscious and would not mind the few extra pennies for "green" bullets. In fact, they would probably welcome the opportunity as a goodwill gesture and to help overcome recent negative public opinion about hunting. (Supporters of the National Rifle Assn. could use a little positive publicity these days.) The problem will more than likely come from the manufacturers, who are always afraid of changing the status quo.