USING TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE LEAD POISONING IN CALIFORNIA CONDORS
|Kara K Fadden; Ventana Wildlife Society; email@example.com; Mike Stake, Joe Burnett, Darren Gross, Evan McWreath, Danaé Mouton
Once extinct from the wild, the California Condor's (Gymnogyps californianus) global population has increased to over 500 individuals over the last 35 years through intensive management efforts of dedicated individuals and agencies. In spite of these efforts, lead poisoning continues to be the most challenging obstacle for condor recovery. Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS), which co-manages the Central California Condor population with Pinnacles National Park, started a free non-lead program in 2012 to mitigate lead exposure. Since then, VWS has provided over 13,000 boxes of non-lead ammunition to hunters and ranchers within the condor range. However, an ammunition shortage since 2020, required VWS to develop a more critical and efficient approach to prioritize distribution to individuals having the greatest potential impact on condor survival. Using high-resolution GPS data from transmitters placed on condors, biologists were able to use GIS to pinpoint probable condor feeding events, and identify potentially high risk properties. Though this method has helped focus outreach efforts, it has also emphasized the need for placement of GPS transmitters on more condors. This will provide a more complete analysis of condor scavenging patterns, a better assessment of outreach priorities, and greater progress toward eliminating lead from the environment.