Three Condor Chicks Dead

By Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch

Three young California condors in our area were found dead recently, spelling bad news for recovery efforts. On the bright side, seven chicks were born in the wild in California this year, bringing the statewide tally to 89 birds.

In late July, biologists found condor chick #503 lying in thick brush below a redwood tree adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest in Big Sur. It’s gut was full of microtrash—small bits of plastic, glass, bottle caps, bullet shells and other items that condor chicks are unable to digest. The second bird–condor #358–strangled itself on a rope abandoned near Tar Creek Falls along Sespe Creek near nesting areas. The third bird—condor #539—was retrieved from its nest near Sespe Creek earlier this month. Microtrash is suspected of playing a role in its death, too, though biologists are still awaiting the report on the final cause of death.

ForestWatch and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service launched a joint effort this month to remove microtrash from 8 sites in the Los Padres National Forest. Our first cleanup took place Saturday, Sept. 26, coinciding with National Public Lands Day. We worked to remove trash from the Sespe Creek area.

On October 3-4, join ForestWatch and the Sierra Club to help remove abandoned barbed wire fencing in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

This fencing blocks rare pronghorn antelope from roaming freely, and they are unable to jump over it. We’ll remove fences on Saturday, have a potluck dinner, camp and spend Sunday morning exploring the area. Go to to learn more.

Jeff Kuyper is Executive Director of Los Padres ForestWatch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the forest with community involvement, innovative fieldwork, scientific collaboration and legal advocacy.

This is part of the October 02, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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