|Condors to soar above Pinnacles once again | by Debbie Bulger
Building on the successful reintroduction of condors to the Ventana Wilderness,
the National Park Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the Ventana Wilderness Society, will release condors at the Pinnacles National
Monument this winter.
rare California Condor delights visitors at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in
August. Educational signs warn people not to disturb or feed the huge birds.
Wildlife biologist, Amy Fesnock, estimates that six condors will be released at
the Pinnacles in early December. Currently, workers are constructing the release
facility between North and South Chalone Peaks. When birds are in the pens at
the release facility, the trail between North and South Chalone Peaks will be
closed. The release facility will not be visible from North Chalone Peak. Members
of the public will be able to view the birds and the release process by remote
video camera via the internet. In addition, the park is constructing educational
exhibits about the reintroduction of the condors.
Once the first group of condors is released a second group of six will be moved
to holding pens on site. There the captive-born birds will learn needed skills
from a “mentor condor” over an approximately nine-month period and will ultimately
be released in September of 2003. The process will continue until a population
of between 20 to 30 birds is established. Additional releases may take place over
the next 15 years.
The California Condor was formerly found throughout Central and Southern California.
They are huge birds with a 9-foot wingspan. Their decline to near extinction resulted
from pesticides, lead poisoning and habitat destruction. Once established in the
Pinnacles, the released condors will be left food by biologists for safety reasons.
Released condors have died because they ingested lead bullets from dead animals.
The Ventana Wilderness Society is working on an education program to alert school
children and others about poisoning danger to scavenger birds such as condors
Central Coast hikers are delighted to see the reintroduced condors in the Ventana.
Soon this experience may be afforded to hikers in the Pinnacles.