Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ENV: San Diego Condors

Condors to return to San Diego

SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- California condors are expected to return soon to the skies over San Diego County, nearly a century after they disappeared.

Scientists say condors released in Mexico three years ago have made exploratory flights within 15 miles of the United States, and they believe the birds will cross the border in the next few months.

"I thought it would be several years from now," said Mike Wallace, a team leader with the California Condor Recovery Program.

The condor is North America's biggest bird, with wingspans up to 9 feet. It could once be found from coast to coast, but hunting, pesticides and development drove the birds to the brink of extinction.

The last documented sighting of a free-flying condor in San Diego was in 1910.

Eleven condors are exploring the mountain ridge that leads them toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

The goal is to have condors released in central California meet up with the population living in Mexico. To date, the 40 to 50 birds released in central California have flown as far south as the San Bernardino Mountains, east of Los Angeles.


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