May 19, 2007
Two Additional California Condors Found Dead in Last Three Days
A four year old male California condor, #301 was found dead in Big Sur on May 15, 2007. Ventana Wildlife Society biologist, Sayre Flannagan, found 301 below a span of power lines and with a laceration on his leg. “The way 301 was found suggests he had collided with the power line”, said Sayre Flannagan. Pacific Gas and Electric had installed top-of-the-line marking devices on this same power line last year after two condors had previously collided with it and died. “If this is the cause of death, a total of three condors have died after colliding with this particular line and something more effective needs to be done”, said Kelly Sorenson, Executive Director of Ventana Wildlife Society.
A second juvenile California condor from the Pinnacles National Monument flock has also been found dead and was recovered in Big Sur, California. On the evening of May 17, Ventana Wildlife Society biologists received a ‘mortality signal’ from Pinnacles California condor #307 in the Big Sur area. The signal comes from the bird’s radio transmitter which activates a signal automatically after
eight hours of no movement. The next morning, Ventana biologists found Condor 307 dead of no obvious cause. She is being transferred to the San Diego Zoo for a necropsy to investigate the cause of death.
The last contact with 307 at Pinnacles was Saturday, May 5, 2007. She arrived in Big Sur on Tuesday May 8 and their last visual sighting was Monday, May 14.
“Condor 307 was a member of our oldest cohort, and has been tracked routinely flying between Pinnacles and Big Sur,” National Park Service (NPS) Superintendent Eric Brunnemann said.
“Although the death of any condor is a heartfelt sadness, the reintroduction of California condors is a proven success as demonstrated by the birth of a wild-hatched condor chick just last April in Big Sur,” Brunnemann continued.
From a population low of 22 birds in the mid 1980s, California condors are making a slow, but steady recovery through intensive captive breeding efforts and public education programs. As of April 30, 2007, 138 California condors are in the wild from a total population of 286. The initial goal for California is to have 150 free flying condors in the state. “Not including the wild nestlings, Central California had 40 free-flying California condors as of May 1, 2007, but we just lost three birds”, said Kelly Sorenson. Pinnacles currently has 13 free-flying California condors that are routinely visible at the monument, which hosts the only public condor release in California.
-NPS & VWS-
Ventana Wildlife Society
Ventana Wildlife Society has been saving native California wildlife through research, restoration and education for more than twenty-five years. In 1997, their expertise in wildlife restoration allowed VWS to become the first private, non-profit organization to be responsible for releasing and monitoring California condors in the wild. In addition to their work with condors, VWS has been involved with the restoration of prairie falcons, peregrine falcons and bald eagles to the Big Sur and Central Coast Region. VWS also monitors songbird populations and carries out a number of research contracts through the Big Sur Ornithology Lab, including identifying bird responses to habitat restoration and tracking monarch butterfly population fluctuations and migration patterns. Ventana Wildlife Society also provides innovative and exciting environmental education and internship opportunities to youth and young adults throughout the Central Coast Region. www.ventanaws.org
Pinnacles National Monument / National Park Service
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Established in 1908, Pinnacles National Monument preserves 26,000 acres encompassing the spectacular remnants of an ancient volcano, talus caves, a rich array of California native plant and animal communities, and a vibrant cultural and historical legacy. Pinnacles is a highly dynamic landscape, shaped by earthquakes, floods and fires. Nearly 70 percent of the park is designated wilderness, and preserves the wilderness qualities of unspoiled habitat, natural quiet, dark night skies and solitude in a rapidly developing region of California. Pinnacles National Monument is the first national park unit to serve as a release site for California condors. www.nps.gov/pinn
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California Condor Recovery Program is a multi-entity effort to recover the endangered California condor. Cooperators include Ventana Wildlife Society, the National Park Service at Pinnacles National Monument, U.S. Forest Service, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, the Oregon Zoo, California Department of Fish and Game and the Peregrine Fund. Mexican partners include the Center for Scientific Investigation and Graduate Studies in
Ensenada and La Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAP). The Recovery Program is currently focusing its efforts on the captive-breeding and reintroduction of California condors to the wild in the hopes of establishing a self-sustaining population. www.fws.gov