Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lead paint kills rare Pacific seabirds

American Bird Conservancy renewed its efforts this week on behalf of Laysan Albatrosses on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The rare seabirds unfortunately eat lead-based paint chips from 70 abandoned buildings, and the conservation group -- plus Conservation Council for Hawai'i and Hawai'i Audubon Society -- want Congress to provide funds to remove the paint.

“Curious Albatross chicks are ingesting the lead-based paint chips, which causes a variety of painful ailments and ultimately, a slow death,” said Dr. Jessica Hardesty Norris, Seabird Program Director for ABC. ...

In a paper to be released in the scientific journal Animal Conservation, Dr. Myra Finkelstein of the University of California Santa Cruz and co-authors, including scientists and managers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, concluded that the death of Laysan Albatross chicks from lead exposure on Midway has long-term consequences for the nesting population of Laysan Albatrosses there. By 2060, there may be as many as 190,000 fewer albatrosses due to lead poisoning. By contrast, removing lead-based paint now could increase the population by up to 360,000 by 2060.
Laysan Albatross courtesy of International Bird Rescue Research Center/Jay Holcomb

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