The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incident Command Team, in collaboration with partner agencies, continues to develop and implement conservation strategies to help California condors in light of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Strategies include implementation of vaccine trials, field monitoring, and adaptation of current management practices to be increasingly nimble and flexible to improve response to future HPAI outbreaks.
Black Vulture Vaccination Trial Results
A vaccine-induced immune response has been detected in all black vultures that received the HPAI vaccination at Carolina Raptor Center after performing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test on the samples. Titers (concentration of antibodies) present in the birds are still being evaluated by USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory through refined testing methods to improve clarity in the results.
California Condor Vaccination Trial
Vaccination of condors in managed care will begin next week with three condors. If these birds do not show any adverse effects from the vaccine (e.g., swelling at injection site, poor health), the trial will continue the following week with additional condors. Blood samples from the birds will be collected 21-days and 42-days following vaccination to evaluate the immune response. Trials will run into September.
Ongoing Field Operations
The California Condor Recovery Program continues to implement standard operations and we are hopeful this will include the release of juveniles this year. However, due to the dynamic nature of HPAI outbreaks, and logistics around potential future vaccinations, adjustments will be made accordingly.