Protection Of Condor Habitat
- I have been asked to forward the following...Howard King
CA DEN Alert: Support the Protection of Condor Habitat
Dear California DEN Activist:
Millions of taxpayer dollars and countless hours have
been dedicated to saving the California condor from
extinction. But now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
which is responsible for preserving this highly endangered
species, is considering issuing a permit to allow for
condors at the Tejon Ranch to be "taken" or, in other
words, killed, harmed, harassed or injured. Currently,
just 60 condors exist in the wild in California and
one was illegally shot by a hunter at the Tejon
Ranch in early 2003.
The Tejon Ranch abuts Interstate 5 approximately 1 hour
north of Los Angeles. Despite its proximity to Los
Angeles, the 430-square-mile ranch is considered one of
the most significant wildlife areas in the state.
Multiple regions - the Northern Great Basin, Transverse
and Coast Mountain Ranges, West Mojave and Sonoran deserts,
the Tehachapis, Sierra Nevadas and the Great Central
Valley - converge in this area providing important
habitat for a number of endangered species,
including not only the California condor, but
also the San Joaquin kit fox and Mojave ground
squirrel. The Tejon Ranch Corporation is proposing to
develop tens of thousands of acres of this landscape for
residential, commercial and industrial purposes.
Tejon Ranch Corp. has requested an incidental take permit
for condors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its
proposed ranching and development activities. Unfortunately,
despite having been in discussions with the Fish and
Wildlife Service regarding this permit and an accompanying
Habitat Conservation Plan for a number of years, neither Tejon
Ranch nor the Fish and Wildlfie Service has released to
the public any real detail regarding the scope or impact of
this unusual request.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Defenders is in the process of drafting comments on the Fish
and Wildlife Service's proposal. A summary of our main
concerns is provided below. Please review these concerns
and write a letter in your own words - individual letters
are given more weight than form letters. Your letter need
not be lengthy or detailed. It should reflect your concerns
with the proposal. Please send your letter by MONDAY, JULY 26.
SUGGESTED POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR LETTER:
The notice regarding this proposal contained very little
information. The public needs more information regarding
this proposal in order to provide any meaningful comment.
The Fish and Wildlife Service should provide more
information to the public and extend the comment period.
Why wasn't the public asked to provide input earlier in the
process? Because the Habitat Conservation Plan is now almost
finalized, it will be more difficult to address and
incorporate the public's concerns. How is an incidental
take permit and the proposed development by Tejon Ranch
Corporation consistent with the fact that the Tejon Ranch is
officially designated as critical habitat for the California
condor? Also, how is this proposal consistent with the
California Condor Recovery Plan?
One of the most serious threats to condors in the wild is the
risk of lead poisoning due to ingestion of lead bullet
fragments remaining in the carcasses of unrecovered game
animals. Hunting is a regular and popular activity on
Tejon Ranch. Will hunting with lead ammunition continue
to occur on the property? If so, will it pose a serious
risk to condors?
The Tehachapi Mountains have historically provided important
foraging habitat for wild condors, and is expected to be
equally important to the future of reintroduced birds. These
mountains also provide a critical link between the California
coastal mountain ranges and the Sierra Nevadas. Any developments
that disrupt this linkage may seriously negatively impact
the long-term viability of the wild condor population
Condors are very inquisitive birds. They frequently investigate
areas where humans recreate and live. Allowing development
within the Tejon rangelands critical habitat area may seriously
diminish the value of this critical habitat to the long-term
conservation of the condor. Even "minor" developments may have
major impacts to the condor.
This is the first year that condors have successfully raised
a wild chick since they were reintroduced in the wild a dozen
years ago. The loss of any condor in the wild is a serious
matter, especially if that condor was a wild-raised chick.
The avoidable loss of even one condor would be unacceptable.
The California condor is a very special species, often
consideredan icon of the Endangered Species Act, and was
successfully held back from extinction only by the collective
efforts of many agencies and organizations. Approving take
of a California condor by the Fish and Wildlife Service
could be considered an affront to the hundreds of people
that have worked for the conservation of the condor
across many decades.
The public should be involved in the decision-making process
regarding the California condor incidental take permit for
Tejon Ranch Corporation.
Please send written comments by July 26 to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office
2493 Portola Road, Suite B
Ventura, CA 93003
Thanks for helping to protect a special bird species in
Director, California Office
Defenders of Wildlife
Although recent reintroductions of condors have been successful
in California and Arizona and reproduction in the wild looks
promising, this species remains highly endangered. The total
population consists of 149 captive individuals and 99 wild
birds. The Tejon Ranch Corp. has requested that the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service issue an "incidental take" permit
associated with a habitat conservation plan for California
condors at Tejon Ranch. Although the Endangered Species
Act prohibits the "take" of federally endangered species,
the Service can issue permits to allow "incidental take,"
which is defined as take that is incidental to and not for
the purpose of carrying out an otherwise lawful activity.
The Tejon Ranch Corp. is requesting this permit for
incidental take of California condors on portions of the
ranch. Defenders of Wildlife is concerned about the Service
approving activities that will result in harming, harassing
or even possibly the death of a single critically endangered condor.
formore information on California condors.