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California condor found shot; second one in three weeks

April 6, 2009 |  6:03 pm

Condor2 *Updated with additional reward being offered

A California condor was found to have been shot and is the second condor in less than a month to be discovered with lead shotgun pellets lodged in its body.

The juvenile female was trapped by biologists from the Ventana Wildlife Society, who three weeks ago discovered an adult male condor with 15 shotgun pellets in its wings and torso.

"We were alarmed when one condor was found shot," said Ventana Wildlife Society Director Kelly Sorenson. "Now with two birds in such a short time, we are deeply concerned."

Although both birds are still alive, it remains unclear whether either will be able to return to the wild.

Each bird was tested and found to be suffering from lead poisoning. They have been transferred to the Los Angeles Zoo for long-term treatment.

The male is in critical condition and remains alive only because veterinarians have been sustaining him with a feeding tube, as the bird has a disabled digestive tract due to the lead poisoning.

The female has a better prognosis, though one pellet damaged a bone in her left wing and it is uncertain if she will regain the ability to fly.

Defenders of Wildlife is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction of whoever is responsible for the shootings.

"You can't place a dollar sign on how valuable each condor living in the wild is for the survival of the species," said Pamela Flick, California program coordinator for Defenders of Wildlife. "But we hope that this contribution will help to catch those responsible for shooting this rare and vulnerable bird."


The Center for Biological Diversity has also established a reward, of $30,000, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters.

"Shooting these birds hurt us all -- from the folks who have worked so hard to bring the condor back from the brink of extinction to everybody who has ever seen one of these giant birds soaring in the California sky," Adam Keats, director of the center's Urban Wildlands Program, said.

"These are senseless crimes, and we are hopeful that the establishment of this reward will help investigators find the person or persons responsible," added Keats.

They also face federal and state penalties for violations of the Endangered Species Act if captured and convicted.

-- Kelly Burgess

Top photo: A pair of California condors sit atop a rock. Credit: Bob Grieser / Associated Press

Bottom photo: A male California condor soars in the Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary near Big Sur., Calif. Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press