A BACKWARDS STEP FOR THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR
Few species have been featured on this blog more than California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). There is no better school for conservation than the struggle over the past few decades to find a way to support these birds on a continent that no longer harbors much of a home for them. The recent trend has been a hopeful one; from a mere 22 individuals in the early '80s, a concerted management program has lifted the tally to nearly 350, over half of which live free in a sort of 3/4-wild state.
Some bad news arrived yesterday, of the recent deaths of three members of the Arizona population. All three had succumbed to lead poisoning, a persistent plague in the region. The entire population was trapped and subjected to chelation therapy a few years ago, but obviously, more needs to be done. The Arizona and Utah Departments of Fish & Wildlife are stepping up efforts to change the habits of local hunters, including handing out coupons for free non-toxic ammunition.
illustration: CALIFORNIA CONDOR (2008) acrylic 30" x 20"