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
Titers (concentration of antibodies) present in the birds are in the final stages of being evaluated by USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory. Results will be reported soon.
California Condor Vaccination Trial
Vaccination of condors in managed care continues. 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 and the second samples August 15. These samples will be batched together for analysis. 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: Six condors administered single dose of 1 ml vaccine.
Group 3: Control birds, no vaccinations, only blood sample collections.
Ongoing Field Operations
Three of the birds that were rescued, condors 982, 1061, and 1108, received care for HPAI in Arizona and are ready to be released back into the wild. Blood samples evaluated by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory show that all three birds have some level of natural immunity to HPAI after contracting and surviving exposure to the virus. The birds are in The Peregrine Fund’s release pen at the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermillion Cliffs acclimating to the wild. Pending weather and their behavior, they will be released on Saturday, August 5, 2023. Updates will be provided on The Peregrine Fund’s social media pages. The fourth bird, condor 757, that survived also has immunity to HPAI and will be released at a later time as he is currently re-growing molted flight feathers.
Due to the effects of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza on the Arizona/Utah condor flock, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, Bureau of Land Management, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and other Southwest Working Group condor partners are not holding the annual Public Lands Day condor release. Instead, the BLM and partners will host a National Public Lands Day event on Saturday, September 23 to improve the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument condor release viewing site in preparation for the highly anticipated 2024 condor release. The event will be a service project that will allow public land and condor enthusiasts to work with biologists from the Southwest Condor Working Group on a project to benefit condors. For more information, please visit the BLM’s press release.