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In November, one of the oldest condors in Central California died from lead poisoning after being found with tiny bullet fragments and a .22-caliber slug in his gullet that he apparently swallowed with a mouthful of meat.

The 9-year-old giant was one of the earliest released in a condor recovery program along the Big Sur coast. His death — and the recent death of a golden eagle near Sacramento — are being highlighted by health and environmental groups who want California to become the first state to impose a statewide ban on the use of lead bullets for hunting.

While supporters say the future recovery of the prehistoric birds hangs in the balance, that issue alone hasn’t been enough to get statewide lead bullet bans in the past.