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Judge Says He'll Extend Ban on Capture of Last 5 Wild Condors

January 12, 1986|From Associated Press

A federal judge promised to extend his court order halting the roundup of the last five wild California condors as an official hinted that he may delay capturing a mating pair of birds until they produce eggs.

U.S. District Judge Barrington Parker, who on Thursday issued a 10-day restraining order barring the capture of the five endangered condors, said during a Friday hearing in Washington that he will extend the order until the end of the month.

That will allow time for the National Audubon Society, which sued to halt the capture, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which supports the roundup, to prepare their arguments.

The Audubon Society believes the condor roundup will reduce the endangered species' chances for survival by threatening their habitat and making re-establishment of a wild population difficult.

The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to capture all five birds to reduce inbreeding in the captive population, thereby increasing the odds that the captive condors will produce strong offspring for eventual release.

But during a telephone interview from Washington, Jan Riffe, the agency's director of wildlife research, said he might delay for three months the capture of a mating pair of the giant birds if it appears that the female will produce eggs.

"Two birds have shown courtship and mating activity," Riffe said. "If our field experts, including the veterinarians, felt there was significant egg formation in the female, then most likely we would not proceed with capture efforts at that time."

Only 27 condors now exist--five in the wild and 22 at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo.

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