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Feds’ decision to allow wind farm to kill California condor threatens recovery effort, says leading bird group

(Washington, D.C., May 24, 2013) Today the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published the Record of Decision and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion for the Alta East Wind Project in California, which would for the first time allow a wind farm to kill an endangered California Condor without danger of prosecution. Fewer than 250 California Condors remain in the wild.


In response, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is calling on the Department of the Interior to reverse the decision, charging that allowing the legal killing of one of the most imperiled birds in the United States threatens endangered species conservation efforts across the country.


California Condors almost became extinct in the 1970s. Only a desperate, last-ditch decision to bring all the condors into captivity—followed by a careful and extensive program to breed and release the birds into the wild—has saved the condors so far. Even after decades of effort, the population has been slow to recover. The total condor population numbers approximately 400 in both the wild and in captivity.


“This massive recovery effort has cost millions of dollars and been the life’s work of many talented people. But why should the privately funded zoos and other conservation groups that raise the majority of the money necessary for this work continue doing so when a condor’s life can be thrown away with the stroke of a pen by the federal government?” asked Kelly Fuller, American Bird Conservancy’s Wind Campaign Coordinator.


“The Department of Interior has signaled today that it is willing to sacrifice the money and hard work that are spent on private conservation efforts to recover endangered species in order to build wind farms. ABC is extremely concerned about the negative effects that this decision could have not only on the condor recovery program, but also on other recovery programs that rely on public-private partnerships, such as for Whooping Cranes,” added Fuller.


California Condors have been listed as endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1967.


Additional Resources:


Information about the Alta East Wind project from BLM: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/alta_east_wind_project.html


Report on condor recovery, with costs for recovery efforts on page 110: http://www.aou.org/committees/conservation/docs/AOU_Condor_Report.pdf


Information on American Bird Conservancy’s position—wind energy should be bird-smart: