Our most Endangered Neighbor is the California Condor with less than 200 individuals in the wild (There are about 181 in captivity). Like the Sea Otter, the low California Condor numbers are due mainly to historical reasons. Many were shot since they were seen as threats to livestock (sadly not true as they are strict carrion eaters) and for museum specimens. Then, as for so many other bird species, came the problem of pesticides, specifically DDT. It caused their egg shells to be too thin, causing them to break.
Though Condor numbers are on the rise the still face modern day threats:
- Poaching is still an issue (how is this possible?!?!)
- Habitat destruction
Dying of lead poisoning due to eating hunter killed carrion that contains lead bullets
Though these guys are not as cuddly and cute looking as our beloved otters, there are still people who are devoting their life to saving this amazing species. Mainly, the people from the Ventana Wildlife Society‘s Condor Project are responsible for their increase in numbers by managing and conducting a few different projects.
- They collect thin-shelled, wild-laid eggs and replace them with viable captive-bred eggs
- They treat lead-poisoned birds
They monitor the safety and health of each condor through radio telemetry
In fact, the wild flock in central California, aka along the Big Sur coast is a direct result of their dynamic efforts.
Now as always, there are plenty of little steps we can all take to help condors out. Trust me, if for no other reason than this one, you want these guys to survive to see one of them soar near you. Their impressive nine foot wing span is awe inspiring!
So here are the steps you and me should be taking!
- Adopt a Condor
- Immediately report poaching activities to the Department of Fish and Game at 1 888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258)
- Hunt with non-lead bullets
- Finally, there are limited and irregular volunteer opportunities with the Ventana Wilderness Society (call them at 831-455-9514)