By Gary Bogue
Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 7:01 am in California condors.
Condor Shooting Investigation Goes Public:
“Wanted” Poster Distributed Throughout Central Coast
The Center for Biological Diversity opened a new front today in its campaign to find those responsible for the shooting of two condors earlier this year, distributing wanted posters throughout the central coast region that was home to both of the giant birds.
The poster, printed in both English and Spanish, resembles an Old West wanted poster, with a picture of a condor and the Condor Tip Line toll-free number and e-mail address. The poster also advertises the $40,000 reward that is available for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters.
“It’s important to take this campaign directly to these communities,” said Adam Keats, the center’s urban wildlands director. “In these hard economic times we believe that word of the $40,000 reward will travel fast and loosen lips, hopefully leading to a break in the case.”
** The reward is believed to be the largest ever posted for the shooting of an endangered species.
The new public campaign supplements the covert investigation being conducted by Bruce Robertson of Tristar Investigation, who is believed to be the first private investigator retained in an endangered-species shooting case. Since being retained by the center in April, Robertson has logged more than 1,000 miles of travel throughout the region, tracking down leads and developing the case. But the shooter or shooters still remain at large.
“Given the challenges of penetrating the tremendous size and terrain of the remote regions where this crime likely took place, the public’s help is going to be needed to solve this crime,” said Robertson. “Somebody probably witnessed the shootings. Somebody probably heard folks talk about them. We want that somebody to come forward, to help solve the crime and to earn their reward.”
The gravity of the case increased on May 11 when one of the two birds that was shot, Condor 286, died of lead poisoning at the Los Angeles Zoo. Condor 286, known as “Pinns,” was one of the first six birds released in Central California. The shooting was not the direct cause of Pinns’ death; the bird was more likely poisoned by ingesting hunter-shot lead ammunition. Pinn’s odd behavior, caused by the lead poisoning, led biologists to the bird’s capture and the discovery of the shotgun wounds. Ingested lead fragments are more likely to result in lead poisoning than shotgun pellets imbedded in muscle and tissue, as the lead is absorbed much more quickly in the digestive system.
“Just as in the Old West, when the community rallied to hold criminals accountable for their crimes, we are asking the citizens of the area to assist in bringing these modern-day outlaws to justice,” said Robertson.
** Any tips regarding the shooting of condors #286 and/or #375 should be called into the Condor Tip Line, toll free, at 1-800-840-1272 or sent by e-mail to CondorTip@gmail.com
** More information on the California condor is available at: http://www.savethecondors.org
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with 220,000 members and on-line activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. You can find out more about them at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org. /Gary