New Data Shows High Use of Tejon Ranch by Condors; Proposed Developments Would Destroy Important Habitat
LOS ANGELES— Data recently acquired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show continuing high use of Tejon Ranch by California condors, particularly in the proposed development area of Tejon Mountain Village. The Center for Biological Diversity obtained the GPS and satellite data for the past several years through a Freedom of Information Act request. The data, previously unavailable to the public, clearly demonstrate that areas slated for development in a May 8 conservation “deal” are frequently used by condors for feeding and roosting –essential behaviors for condor recovery.
“These data reinforce the importance of key parts of Tejon Ranch as critical habitat for California condor recovery,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, the conservation ‘deal’ failed to include or consider these data, and critical habitat for the condor was traded away to development. Clearly, a mistake has been made.”
A map prepared by the Center showing the data points overlaid with Tejon Ranch’s development plans and with existing designated critical habitat for the condor is available at http://savetejonranch.org/condors/index.html. A high-resolution version of the map is available at http://savetejonranch.org/condors/Tejon_condor_points.pdf.
The California condor is an Endangered Species Act success story – so far. Their numbers rebounded from a low of 28 in the mid-1980s to more than 140 free-flying condors in 2007. Substantial private and public resources have enabled this success, especially by protecting habitat that is critical to the bird’s survival. The curious condors do not do well near dense human developments. They mostly prosper in wide-open, windswept, rural areas, where they provide carrion cleanup services. Tejon Ranch contains 130,000 acres of federally designated critical habitat for the California condor, which the birds rely upon today for foraging, roosting and soaring. Their historical and contemporary use of Tejon Ranch continues to highlight the importance of maintaining this area of critical habitat for the condors.
“The California condor continues to teeter on the brink of extinction, so we must assure self-sustaining habitat is available for the birds,” Anderson said. “Without habitat, condors can’t survive in the wild.”
For more information on California condors and Tejon Ranch developments please go to www.savetejonranch.org.