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California Condor Released From Park Found Dead

Pinnacles National Monument

National Park News

One of three juvenile California condors released from the park over the past two weeks died last Saturday of unknown causes. The body is being sent to the Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to determine the cause of death.

Condor 417 had just been just released. She fed and drank normally in the facility prior to release and was behaving as a newly released juvenile condor should behave – feeding immediately after her release outside the monument and again four days later. Biologists followed her activities daily, using radio telemetry, observing her exploring farther each day and finding appropriate perches each night.

On Saturday morning, biologists again tracked her movements, but late that afternoon she was found dead, lying on her back in a field. This is the first condor released from the park that has died since Pinnacles began the condor release program in 2003. NPS biologists and rangers, together with the San Benito County sheriff, recovered her remains. 

On Sunday, California Fish and Game experts agreed that there appeared to be no immediate signs of predation or other causes of death. Condor 417 will undergo a necropsy to determine cause of death. It will be done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a joint investigation with California Fish and Game, the National Park Service and the San Benito County Sheriffs Office.

Pinnacles currently has 14 free flying California condors that are routinely visible at the park, which hosts the only public condor release program in California.


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