Three condors freed after poison therapy The Associated Press
06/06/2008 08:23:55 PM PDT
Three endangered California condors were returned to the wild Friday after undergoing treatment at the Los Angeles Zoo for lead poisoning.
Three other condors continue to receive treatment at the zoo, said Jesse Grantham, an official of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California Condor Recovery Program.
The program is trying to create a self-sustaining population of the giant-bird species, on the brink of extinction in the 1980s and even now numbering only in the low hundreds.
Officials this week announced they were in crisis mode after seven condors were found with lead poisoning.
The birds started turning up sick about a month ago during random trapping at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in the southwestern San Joaquin Valley.
One bird died during treatment at the zoo. A chick originally thought to be poisoned later tested with lower lead levels and was returned to its nest.
Lead poisoning is a known risk for California condors. The vultures, which can have 9 -foot wingspans and fly more than 100 miles a day, are scavengers and may feed on carcasses of animals that have been killed by hunters using lead ammunition.