“It’s fantastic that they’re the first major entity to go lead-free for hunting,” he said. “But the flip side is they’re planning some major development … that’s going to devastate critical condor habitat.” Some 1,800 hunters a year visit Tejon Ranch, which is home to deer, elk, antelope, wild pigs, wild turkey and quail. As a replacement for lead bullets, there are bullets made of copper and alloys that work just as well, Zoeller said. Delaying when the ban goes into effect allows hunters to test those bullets and see what works for them, he said. [email protected] (661) 257-5253 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – In an effort to protect rebounding condor populations, Tejon Ranch will ban hunters from using lead bullets on the massive property. The ban goes into effect Jan. 1, 2008. When condors eat game felled by lead bullets, they risk ingesting the bullets and getting poisoned. A recent University of California Santa Cruz study backed up the threat lead bullets pose to condors. “We know that hunters are really conservationists, they know the importance of balance in nature and the value of protecting endangered species,” said Barry Zoeller, spokesman for Tejon Ranch. “So we’re sure that they’re going to embrace this change on the ranch.” A 270,000-acre private ranch in the Tehachapi Mountains, Tejon Ranch is a popular hunting ground. There were only 23 California condors alive 25 years ago, but thanks to conservation efforts the state’s condor population has rebounded to 70, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The condors have been seen as far south as Placerita Canyon and Bear Divide, near Newhall. Parts of Tejon Ranch are important feeding and roosting grounds for the condors, said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. But lead bullets remain a primary threat to the condors. Tejon Ranch’s ban on the bullets was applauded by environmental groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Miller offered guarded praise for the ban.