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Protection Of Condor Habitat

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  • Howard King
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26 3:54 PM
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      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
      in California.

      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:

      Rick Farris
      U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
      Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office
      2493 Portola Road, Suite B
      Ventura, CA 93003
      E-mail: fw1condorHCP@...
      Fax: 805-644-1766

      Thanks for helping to protect a special bird species in
      California.

      Sincerely,

      Kim Delfino
      Director, California Office
      Defenders of Wildlife


      BACKGROUND:

      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.

      Visit http://www.defenders.org/wildlife/birds/calcondor.html
      formore information on California condors.
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