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California condor population hits 100

Condor The number of wild, free-flying condors in California has reached 100, the most in half a century.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced the landmark Wednesday, crediting a captive breeding program started in Southern California in 1982, when there were only 22 wild condors in the state.

Young condors born in captivity are released into the wild every fall at Pinnacles National Monument in Central California and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge on the southwest side of the San Joaquin Valley. The flock will get another bump over the next few months with the release of 11 juveniles.

The big birds are also reproducing on their own in the wild, adding 16 young to the California population since 2004.

The carrion-eating birds, known for their huge wingspan (9.5 feet) and memorable visage, soared from Mexico to Canada at the time of settlement. Their numbers plummeted with loss of habitat and the decline of the large mammal populations they fed on. More recently, lead poisoning from ammunition and the ingestion of bits of trash have taken a toll.

Arizona, Utah and Baja Mexico also have wild populations. But even when captive birds are counted, there are fewer than 400 California condors in the world.

--Bettina Boxall

RELATED:

Pinnacles National Monument: California's new national park?

Are California condors worth saving?

Tejon Ranch Co. seeks to release secret condor documents

Photo: A California condor protects its chick in a nest cave near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

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Charles, lead-poisoning is a real threat to the wild condors' well being. Yes, condors eat carrion; they're nature's "clean up crew". Lead bullets have been outlawed in California for a few years now, but apparently that law is not being enforced. Non lead ammo works just as well, and without the bad environmental effects!

@charles, hey dude put down the psycholdelics and TV remote go to a zoo when you get the chance.

Charles does not aparently understand that the bioloigists running this program use scientific methods like autopsies, radio tracking, and good old observation. This is how they have determined the cause of deaths among these birds. The article does not mention another observed cause of death - electrocution from power lines. If charles would actually inform himself of some facts he would understand a thing or two about the behavior of these birds and how the spent ammo ends up in their systems.

Seems like Charles is the one with the political agenda.

Charles, you're so naive you wouldn't know the difference between lead buckshot and chocolate sprinkles on your ice cream. Perhaps you got your fill of lead paint chips as a child, which might explain things. Maybe you don't believe that happens either because no child could be so dumb.

If you see the California Condor as just a political tool then you just don't get it.

Charles,

I have worked with an Andean Condor that nearly very nearly died of lead poisoning in 2006, from the very slight lead exposure present in a carcass.

Trust the scientists. California Condors have been at real risk -- lead poisoning is not a story concocted for political effect.

For more, please see:

http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/california_condor_lead.shtml

The first time I saw a condor was in 1971 near Rose Valley. We were high on some bomb pyramid blotter -- it was like omyeffenGod! It was both as beautiful and as ugly creature that I had ever seen. Totally messed my mind.

The lead poisoning story is just that—a "story." It's a fable made up with a political motive. I'm not even a gun owner or an NRA member, but I spotted this one with ease. Are we dumb enough to believe these birds are eating spent ammunition? From where? Oh yeah, California is so littered with ammo, the Condors have to dig through lead slugs to find "carrion." And a rotting deer carcass looks almost identical to a .22 bullet. Come on people, it's obvious the Condor is a political tool. It's a beautiful creature that environmentalists are using to attack their foes, namely the pro-gun crowd. No animal is dumb enough to confuse a small hunk of lead for meat. Sorry folks. This is total B.S., but its amazing how gullible we are when those affiliated with a cause we believe in release "facts."

These creatures are remarkable. I recall being in a canyon and hearing what I thought was a helicopter overhead. I looked up and to my amazement saw a condor for the first time. Everyone should have that opportunity.

@dan,
Yes and the Governator signed a law outlawing certain types lead ammunition over the whining of the NRA.

Great news. Is there any sort of alternative to lead ammunition?


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