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Vasquez Rocks nature series takes flight with condor talk

Posted: September 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Bullets don’t have to be fired from a gun to kill California Condors, a group of bird lovers learned Sunday.

About 40 people gathered at the Vasquez Rocks Interpretive Center in Agua Dulce to hear the latest about the state’s biggest bird.

“If you know hunters, tell them please don’t use lead shot. Use tungsten or copper instead,” said Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, who shared what she knows about condors.

“Also, if you are a hunter, please retrieve the animals you shoot and remove the bullets from the carcass,” she said.
The California Condor, with a wingspan reaching 10 feet, eats only carrion.

Despite more than 40 years of struggle to bring the bird back from the endangered species list, many die eating “micro-trash” such as bottle caps, metal springs and bullets.

When Erskine-Hellrigel posted signs warning about the perils of “micro-trash,” she said, someone shot the sign with bullets.

The gunman also shot porcelain toilets dumped near the sign. “Someone blasted them with bullets leaving thousands of pieces to pick up,” she said.

In 1970, there were only 22 condors left in California and that population dropped to perilously to only 10.

“Today, there are 224 individuals soaring free in our skies,” Erskine-Hellrigel said. “Coming from 10, this is a miracle.”

Lisa Smith, a docent and lecture organizer at the center, said: “We had a really great turnout and we hope to have more of these.”
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