Joe Burnett; Ventana Wildlife Society; 9699 Blue Larkspur Lane, Suite 105, Monterey, CA, 93940; (831) 747-4104;; Melissa Clark, Amy List , Mike Stake, Kelly Sorenson
In 1997, Ventana Wildlife Society joined the California Condor Recovery Program to help reestablish condors in central California; Pinnacles National Park joined local efforts in 2003. As of December 31, 2017, the wild population for Central California, co-managed with Pinnacles, was 90 condors. In 2006, we documented the first nest in central California and the first in a coastal redwood. This nest failed from egg breakage due to extremely thin eggshells. From 2006-2015, we conducted research that determined the DDT metabolite, DDE, was causing eggshell thinning in condors that consumed contaminated marine mammal carcasses. Initially, we determined hatch success to be low, however, hatch success normalized over the course of the 10-year study period. We expect the DDE threat to continue to diminish with time and hatch success to continue to increase. Lead poisoning, from the ingestion of spent lead ammunition in carcasses, is the leading mortality threat and the biggest hurdle to establishing a self-sustaining condor population. We mitigate the lead threat by treating condors with elevated blood lead, providing lead-free carcasses to condors, and conducting public outreach. With a statewide lead ammunition ban going in to effect in 2019, the hope for a self-sustaining wild condor population could be within reach.
The Anthropocene: Recovery & Re-Wilding