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
No additional information since the last report. 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 of results.
California Condor Vaccination Trial
Vaccination of condors in managed care continued this week. Blood samples from the birds will be collected at 21-days and 42-days following vaccination to evaluate the immune response from two different vaccination approaches. The first sample will be collected on August 8. Trials will run into September.
Group 1: Vaccination of 0.5ml on two occasions, 21 days apart (initial injection and booster).
Status: 10 condors administered first dose of 0.5ml vaccine.
Group 2: Single vaccination of 1ml.
Status: Three condors administered single dose of 1 ml vaccine.
Group 3: Control birds, no vaccinations, only blood sample collections.
Ongoing Field Operations
The Peregrine Fund is preparing to release three of birds that received treatment for HPAI at Liberty Wildlife. All have some level of immunity to HPAI based on Hemagglutination Inhibition tests performed on their blood samples by USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory. This week, the birds were transferred from Liberty Wildlife back to the release site in Arizona to reacclimate to their home. A release date will be determined based on their behavior and weather. The fourth bird that survived also has immunity to HPAI and will be released at a later time as he is currently re-growing molted flight feathers.
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.