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3 Condors Fly Back to Area They Were Removed From

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three California condors captured in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary near Fillmore last fall and relocated to a remote area in the rugged hills above Santa Barbara have flown home, wildlife officials say.

Scientists hope the wandering birds will be unable to find food in the sanctuary area and will return to the Santa Barbara back country. But if they do not, the vultures could be moved again or captured and kept as breeding stock for their endangered species.

“They stayed over there for quite a long time,” Robert Mesta, condor project coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday. “It was last week that they moved back. They have a tendency to wander.”

The female birds were born at the Los Angeles Zoo and released into the Sespe sanctuary in 1992.

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They are three of the four condors that were moved to a distant ridge along Lion Canyon in Los Padres National Forest last fall after scientists decided that structures and human activities made the Sespe site too hazardous.

Three condors have been killed in recent years when they flew into power lines, and another died in 1992 after drinking antifreeze somewhere near Pyramid Lake.

Biologist Michael Wallace, curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo and a member of the California Condor Recovery Team, said a group of scientists met in Los Angeles last week to discuss the wayward birds.

“We’re going to wait and see what they’re going to do,” Wallace said. “The ideal situation is they’ll get hungry enough and go back to where they know food is, in Lion Canyon.

“If they’re not going to behave, then they’ll be brought back into captivity,” Wallace added.

Of the nine condors now in the wild, the oldest, named Xewe, has stayed in Lion Canyon with a group of five young birds released there in November. Wildlife experts are concerned that the three wandering vultures could lead the younger birds to the Sespe area.


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