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More on the condor evacuations in Big Sur

July 7, 2008 |  4:28 pm


This weekend, L.A. Unleashed told you about how the wildfires in Big Sur and Goleta are affecting animals -- pets having to be sheltered, animals forced from their habitat and some condor chicks may have been lost.

The Times' Steve Chawkins updates us on the endangered birds, which are very much still in danger:

Two weeks ago, the Coast Guard airlifted eight young birds that were not ready for release from a holding pen at Andrew Molera State Park to another shelter at Pinnacles National Monument.

But wildlife experts are worried about the 43 condors living in the wild in the Big Sur area -- particularly three chicks in nests within the fire zone.

"We can’t presume anything, but those chicks have a major uphill battle to survive," said biologist Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society.

Sorensen said the fire has kept observers out of condor territory for a week. Aerial surveillance indicated that one of the nests, high in a redwood tree, may have burned.

Thirty of the more mature condors living around Big Sur are all banded with transmitters that beam a radio signal a short distance. Of the remaining 10, which carry more sophisticated GPS devices, one has been spotted as far away as Atascadero, about 100 miles southeast of Big Sur.

"It’s a really challenging time -- not only for the birds but for us," said Sorenson, who said his organization is the only nonprofit group releasing condors and managing them in the wild. Its base of operations, which includes a staff cabin and two large pens for the condors -- is located in a Big Sur canyon that has been severely burned.

Below is a video of the Associated Press' report on the condor evacuation effort.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Orville Myers / Associated Press

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