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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
Television News Feature on California Condors at Hopper Mtn NWRC Earns Emmy Award
Region 8, June 16, 2007

A television news feature on the release of two California condors at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge received an Emmy award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Pacific Southwest Chapter June 16, 2007. "California Condors," written and produced by Wendy Thies, news anchor for KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo, Calif., received an Emmy in the "Specialty Reporting: Environment" category.

Focusing on the first release of condors at Bitter Creek NWR, The segment documents the release of condors that had been hatched and raised in Idaho.  During the segment, biologists catch the birds they call numbers 58 and 65. Before these condors are released, biologists draw blood, checking for lead and West Nile Virus and attach a tag and transmitter.  Bitter Creek NWR Manager Mike Stockton is filmed and quoted in story.

"They (condors) do have hierarchy. Teach them how to feed on the carcasses that we throw out there and who's who so they know when they get out in the wild. There are other birds out there that are bigger and badder. They'll be down the pecking order and that kind of thing," explained Stockton.  

During the final health check nine free flying condors arrive from the Hopper Mountain National Refuge in Ventura County to see what was going on.

"They're pretty charismatic. They're one of the largest birds in the world flying with a 9 1/2 foot wingspan, 25 pounds. They can live to be 40 or 50 years old. They're monogamous, generally, so they pair up for life," said Stockton

The piece closes by mentioning the often fatal interaction between condors and lead ammunition and the ongoing efforts to educate hunters about alternatives to lead bullets. The segment is available for viewing on the station's website: http://www.ksby.com/Global/story.asp?S=6697488

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov