Gunshot, lead-poisoned condor returns to the Big Sur wild.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Veterinarians treated the poisoning with injections of liquids and drugs to remove the lead from the condor’s blood, said Susie Kasielke, the zoo’s curator of birds.
Monitoring data indicate Condor 375 has been doing well since her release.
“We are extremely pleased to see condor 375 flying free in Big Sur once again, because that’s where she belongs,” said VWS Senior Wildlife Biologist Joe Burnett in a press release.
Condor 286, the older male with 15 gunshots and a more severe case of lead poisoning, is still being treated at the zoo. He is in critical condition, according to VWS, and it’s uncertain if he’ll ever be able to return to the wild, where his mate is waiting for him.
The shotgun pellets don’t seem to be impairing either bird and will probably stay where they are—unless one or two can be easily removed and given to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as forensic evidence of the shooting.
“There were no external wounds, so it’s really hard to say when any incident occurred,” Kasielke says. “They don’t appear to have damaged any structures or internal organs.”
The fact that some condors have been rehabilitated speaks to their resilience, Kasielke says: “They came about as close to extinction as any species has. The fact that they are coming back keeps us motivated to do whatever we can for them.”
Meanwhile, state and private investigators continue to search for the perpetrators of the shootings—and hope the $40,000 reward will entice someone to talk.
“We don’t yet know what leads, if any, have been generated from this reward so far,” said Kelly Sorenson, Ventana Wildlife Society Executive Director. “But we certainly hope that the person or persons responsible are caught and punished accordingly.”