- Bird

Condor disaster deepens; 18 deaths in three weeks

The decades-long challenge to maintain the California Condor from going extinct faces a brand new disaster as a result of widespread pressure of extremely pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on Wednesday that six condors are confirmed to have died from HPAI since March 20, and 12 different deceased birds are suspected to have had the sickness. 5 extra condors are present process testing for the chicken flu and are receiving care.

All the lifeless and ailing birds are from the wild, free-flying Southwestern flock, which is discovered throughout northern Arizona and southern Utah. On the finish of 2022, this flock had 116 people. The 18 birds which have died in roughly three weeks characterize 15 p.c of the Southwestern flock. (Earlier this week, we reported on the first three confirmed deaths.)

“Till additional discover,” the FWS wrote, “we’ll report all deceased condors within the Southwest Flock discovered on or after March 30, 2023, as ‘suspect HPAI.’” The company says it’s going to replace the entire of confirmed HPAI deaths as extra check outcomes are available in.

The Arizona-Utah inhabitants strikes all through northern Arizona and southern Utah, utilizing the panorama inside Grand Canyon Nationwide Park, Zion Nationwide Park, Vermillion Cliffs Nationwide Monument, the Kaibab Plateau, and surrounding areas. To this point, the virus has not been detected within the different condor populations in California or Baja California, Mexico.

‘Not a matter of if however when’

Nonetheless, the nonprofit Ventana Wildlife Society, one of many primary organizations in condor restoration in California, says on its web site that different species within the space have examined constructive for HPAI. Chicken flu has been documented in Turkey Vultures, Snowy Plovers, and a number of other species of waterfowl in Monterey County this 12 months, “dangerously near the free-flying condor flock in central California. HPAI is now throughout us, so it isn’t a matter of if however when an outbreak will happen.”

Ventana Wildlife provides: “Our condor crew has been following strict security protocols when dealing with condors since earlier than the illness was discovered to happen in central California and have made preparations for quarantine and therapy by way of companions. Although a vaccine does exist, it’s presently unavailable within the U.S. and the timeline for its availability is unknown. Subsequently, we should assemble non permanent quarantine pens and supply further veterinary help in order that we could be much more ready. These quarantine websites will enable for contaminated birds to obtain supportive care in an setting that’s faraway from zoos, home poultry, and the free-flying condor inhabitants, thus serving to to mitigate the unfold of this devastating illness whereas contaminated condors obtain medical therapy. Moreover, quarantine pens will probably be used to vaccinate the wild flock when the vaccine is offered.

“Along with the measures taken since 2022 to stop the unfold of HPAI, we are actually working carefully with companions to develop much more contingency plans. This week, we raised $80,000 in help of the acquisition of 10 quarantine pens which can arrive in two weeks. SPCA for Monterey County [the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] has permitted the non permanent use of their land on which to setup these pens. As soon as positioned, these pens can be utilized for therapy, vaccination (when accessible) and even safeguarding wholesome condors from HPAI. We’re particularly grateful to our companions at SPCA for Monterey County for his or her collaboration.”

In the meantime, The Peregrine Fund, one of many lead organizations in condor restoration for the Southwestern flock, posted an emergency attraction for donations. The request states:

“Nearly instantly, our staff in Arizona, led by Program Director Tim Hauck, amplified efforts to handle this example, as much as and together with recovering birds from the formidable canyonlands of northern Arizona and southern Utah. Our biologists on the bottom are presently monitoring particular person birds for signs and recovering sick or deceased birds for necropsies. 

“Whereas the main target of our work is to recuperate this critically endangered species by way of captive breeding, launch, and monitoring, this emergency requires elevated and intensified human sources and gear to safeguard this vital inhabitants. That is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Companions like Zion Nationwide Park are already supporting this emergency effort by rappelling 250-foot cliff faces to recuperate condors. This strenuous and harmful work requires extra sources on the bottom proper now, and extra wants will proceed to develop.”

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