Conservation groups have added to a reward worth tens of thousands of dollars for information relating to two California condors found with shotgun wounds in Monterey County in recent weeks.The reward has been increased to more than $40,000, Adam Keats, director of the urban wildlands program for the Center for Biological Diversity, said today.Keats said the increase in the reward was thanks to $8,000 from the Ventana Wildlife Society in Monterey County and $2,500 from the Humane Society of the United States.The Ventana Wildlife Society had offered an initial reward of $1,000 shortly after the birds were found last month.The Center for Biological Diversity then announced a $30,000 reward earlier this week, with the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation of Santa Barbara pledged $25,000 of that amount and the center providing the rest.The first incident was reported on March 10 when biologists from the Ventana Wildlife Society found an adult male condor, known as #286, suffering from 15 buckshot wounds from lead buckshot pellets, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.On March 26, this rare incident became a pattern when a wounded
young female condor, known as #375, was discovered in the same area in Monterey County. She had three shotgun pellets lodged in her wing and thigh.The condor was suffering from lead poisoning, according to the
Ventana Wildlife Society biologists who found the bird, which is now being treated at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Both birds are alive, but Keats said it’s not yet clear whether they will ever be able to return to the wild. The condors were part of a flock located near Big Sur, he said, and two of only 85 condors living in the wild in California.Vigorous conservation and captive breeding efforts beginning in the mid-1980s brought this large, black bird back from the brink of extinction, but the Center for Biological Diversity estimates that 40 percent
of released condors die or are returned to captivity.As an endangered species, the California condor is protected by a variety of state and federal laws. As of 2008, hunters can only use non-lead ammunition in condor habitat areas, Keats said. The birds are extremely susceptible to lead poisoning.”The shooting of these two endangered birds is callous and infuriating,” Jennifer Fearing with the Humane Society said today.
The California Department of Fish and Game is investigating the shootings, but spokeswoman Jordan Traverso said today that the department has no information on leads, suspects, or motives.Keats said the last time a condor was shot was in 2003, and publicity surrounding the incident led to a tip-off identifying the responsible person.The reward of more than $40,000 is for information leading to the arrest of the person, or people, responsible for the shootings. If convicted, the shooter may face penalties under both state and federal laws.Please call the Fugitive Watch hot line at 1-800-9-CAUGHT (1-800-922-8448) or text at 408-355-0999 if you have any information.
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