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, adaptation of current management practices to be increasingly nimble and flexible to improve response to future HPAI outbreaks. The Incident Command will provide updates on the incident in this format on a routine basis until further notice.
All vultures that received the HPAI vaccine as part of the initial trial on May 16 appear to be in good health with no vaccine site reactions. The second vaccine dose will be administered next week.
Depending on the results of this trial, the second step would be to implement the trial on 25 captive California condors. The Service continues to work through planning and logistics of vaccinating condors in managed care with our partners. Any vaccination of condors will be administered by a state-licensed veterinarian at facilities with both state approval and a USDA-approved vaccination plan.
Status of HPAI in the Southwest Flock as of June 2, 2023
The last observation of a distressed and deceased condor in the Southwest condor flock was on April 11. Therefore, reporting on mortality, breeding pairs impacted, rescues, and HPAI results will no longer be included in the weekly report after June 2, unless there is new information to disclose.
Total mortality: 21 condors
Deceased and recoverable: 17 condors
Deceased and unrecoverable: four condors
Breeding pairs impacted:
- Eight breeding pairs (13 individuals deceased)
Number of condors in care: five condors
Total condors tested: 21 condors
Confirmed HPAI positive: 19 condors (17 deceased, two in care at Liberty Wildlife)
Confirmed HPAI negative: two condors in care at Liberty Wildlife
Birds vaccinated: 20 vultures
Ongoing Field Operations
Although the initial outbreak of HPAI in condors in Arizona appears to have ended, wildlife officials anticipate HPAI to spike during migration seasons and the potential for condors to be affected by the virus remains. As such, field monitoring across the population continues. The California Condor Recovery Program partners are continuing our standard management practices; and we are hopeful this will include the release of juveniles in the fall. However, due to the dynamic nature of HPAI outbreaks, adjustments will be made accordingly.