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CALIFORNIA CONDORS: SCIENTIFIC STUDY OR FUNDING VEHICLE FOR SCIENTISTS SUPPORTING A GUN CONTROL AGENDA?

Common sense tells us to follow the money …

How much time, effort and money should man spend on a species that is growing extinct and is little more than a “pet” to its well-paid keepers who rely on environmentalists to keep the food on their table?

Like “its for the kids” argument, conservationists seem to believe that there is something magical in keeping a species around when it has outlived its own ability to fend for itself in the wild. Of course, that something magical is the cash flow that is allocated to scientists and others who have become your typical experts: knowing more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing.

What ticks me off is that the California Condor is an ugly scavenger which seems to feast on pieces of metal and other refuse – often with medically disastrous effects.

And, of course, there are those who would have you believe that the California Condor suffers from lead poisoning – leading to the inescapable  conclusion that we should implement back-door gun control over large portions of California by criminalizing the use of lead bullets. Why, you might ask, do California Condors raised in captivity also have high lead concentrations in their bloodstream?

Even if there were more than a coincidental connection between roadkill that was shot with a lead bullet and lead found in a California Condor’s blood stream, is this sufficient cause to ban lead bullets in a wide-ranging area where the Condor might fly? If you are a radical, leftist liberal environmentalist concerned more with gun control than crime control, any excuse will do.

What is the environmental benefit of artificially re-introducing a species which was on the brink of extinction except for continuing research funding to scientists and institutions which serve little or no practical purpose in today’s complex technological society.

It is somewhat paradoxical that the “people for a perfect planet” who abhor man’s interference with nature would go so far as to, well, interfere with nature for their own self-purpose agendas.

Especially when such interference results in repetitive inbreeding from a very small gene pool which is likely to result in malformed or severely impaired birds. According to experts, “trying to recover a species with only 14 distinct family members and 3 different matriarchal lines may lead to genetic issues that makes the long term prognosis for viable recovery much more negative.” And isn’t that the goal: the reintroduction of the species to their native environment without the necessity for continued intervention by man and highly technological survival schemes.

Consider the story of one such California Condor as reported by the left-leaning liberal times …

“Topa the California condor was a wreck when rescuers found him in 1967. Now, after learning how to mate, he's sired 21 chicks since 1993 -- the father of a new generation for his endangered species.”

“He was found dazed in a mountain bush in 1967, hanging upside down with an injured wing and smelling like rotten fish -- a rare male California condor, a fledgling member of a nearly extinct species.”

“He was a wreck, and the ornithologists who found him in a canyon north of Ojai speculated that he was also emotionally troubled. Yet Topatopa, named for the mountain range where he was found, was whisked away to the Los Angeles Zoo in the hope that his species, whose numbers had dwindled to a mere 22, could find survival in captivity.”

Only a liberal could deduce that the bird was emotionally troubled. Since I know that there are few bird psychiatrists, one might assume that the bird must have displayed some uncharacteristic behavior. Perhaps acting different from what his observer may have wished him to do.

“Topa, as he is known for short, lived alone in a cage for the next 20 years, devoid of the socialization needed to learn the basics of condor life.”

Folks, this is the definition of a pet. An animal which requires his owner’s constant attention for food, water, shelter and medical care. While the bird might have had some research purpose in the beginning, he became an observable pet – demonstrating artificial behaviors which were not characteristic of a wild bird.

“ As a teenager, he courted tree stumps and tufts of grass and tried to mate with sticks and rocks. His first encounter with a female was disastrous. He didn't know what to do. She beat him to a pulp.”

“All that changed when he was paired with Malibu, a mature and aggressive female California condor hatched in captivity at San Diego Wild Animal Park. Malibu was determined to make a man out of him. When Topa started strutting his stuff to inanimate objects, Malibu scooted underneath the tail feathers of his 3-foot-tall frame. Over time, Topa got the hang of it.

Still a pet …

“Now he is a legend among condors -- virile and strong, the father of a new generation. This year, the condor who has spent his entire life shielded from the public and highly protected behind chain-link fences celebrates his 43rd birthday. Like Seabiscuit -- the pot-bellied, bow-legged racehorse who overcame his weaknesses to become a champion and a stud -- Topa embodies the underdog myth for raptor specialists and condor enthusiasts.”

I wonder if the same pet psychiatrist queried the flock to find out if the bird really was a legend among Condors – or simply a legend among Condor handlers who managed to eke twenty-plus years of funding out of this single bird?

As for the story about Seabiscuit, one supposes that this is a further example of anthropomorphism, where one attributes uniquely human characteristics to animals – mostly for public relations, fundraising and commercial  purposes.

Explain to me what is so heroic about surviving in an environment where your basic needs and care are provided by handlers.  The fact that the bird did not die is not, at least to me, a significant factor in any story.

“His stud book has become legendary: 21 chicks sired since 1993. ‘He came in as a fledgling and went from 1967 to 1982 without seeing a female of his species -- you know what that could do to a human male,’ mused Noel Snyder, retired field biologist and former head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's condor recovery team. ‘He was terribly screwed up behaviorally.’”

And it was only through man’s tinkering with nature that this pet Condor managed to mate. I think the taxpayers of California were the ones the also got screwed in the process.

“Topa's improbable story continues to lift the spirits of his keepers at the zoo, where he and Malibu share serene digs furnished with perches and nesting boxes and bristling with closed-circuit surveillance cameras.”

“Topa and Malibu, along with 17 other California condors housed in separate enclosures at the zoo, ‘are pampered, have great medical plans and enjoy meals of rats, rabbits and horse meat served up the way they like them, fresh,’ said Susie Kasielke, curator of birds.”

Now we go into la-la land …

“In his 43rd year, Topa has aroused renewed interest among people who have crossed paths with the strange spectacle from the Pleistocene Age of a million years past -- a 25-pounder with a bald, pinkish head, red-ringed amber eyes, rich brown-black plumage set off by a snow-white lining on the underside of his 9 1/2 -foot wingspan and a razor-sharp beak for tearing flesh. A few people have the scars to prove it.”

“Take sculptor Orson J. Morgan, who was among the first to artistically capture Topa when he entered the bird's cage with graphite pencils and a sketchbook on a sunny day in 1970. His renderings were to be used to produce brass sculptures of what was then the only California condor in captivity.”

Ka-ching!

"I turned my back on the bird, which was about 5 years old with a 5-foot wingspan at the time," he recalled. ‘Topa hopped off his perch, walked over and pulled hard on my pant leg, knocking me to the ground. He's strong as a bulldog.’ For a brief period in the late 1970s and early '80s, federal wildlife authorities practiced condor handling techniques by tangling with Topa. ‘He is a fighter. Really tough," said Jesse Grantham, California condor coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ‘We had to watch out for his beak. It was like being in a cage with a ferocious gorilla. We wondered, 'What if it bites us in the face?' "

“Topa, who never did warm up to humans, remains a quirky bird. His zookeepers, Mike Clark and Debbie Cieni, described him as ‘a lovable nerd.’"

"’He's a matured, successful and well-adjusted nerd -- kind of like billionaire Bill Gates,’ Clark said, studying a bank of television monitors whose screens were filled with images of captive condors.”

A dying breed …

“"But we all have a soft spot in our hearts for him because he's had to overcome so much."
Today, Topa is one of 81 California condors in the state and 322 on the planet. Some of his offspring soar over the Grand Canyon, Ventura County and Baja California. Others are in captive breeding programs.”

More meddling with nature …

Condor recovery programs, however, have made the majestic scavengers reliant on humans for food free of contamination from lead ammunition.”

Considering the scavengers feed on refuse, including pecking a lead-sheathed wiring, batteries, and are even said to go so far as to drink anti-freeze from lead-soldered radiators … one wonders where they actually ingested the lead – especially because lead-filled road kill is somewhat rare in the wilderness? Or, considering that Condors raised in captivity also appear to have high lead concentrations in their blood, might those who want answers, ask for the truth rather than the appearance of the truth – a contrived truth that supports a political agenda of those in charge of their continued funding?

“Condors born and bred in captivity and released into the wild must frequently be trapped, then tested and treated for lead poisoning.”

Talk about upset and freaky birds – imagine being repetitively trapped and having blood drawn – and then being released back into the wild. Wonderful treatment for any wildlife.

“Biologists believe Topa could live into his 70s. John C. Borneman, 78, who was the National Audubon Society's California condor warden when he and fellow raptor expert Fred Sibley captured Topa and took him to the zoo, could not be prouder of the bird's accomplishments.”

What accomplishments? Living a pampered existence designed to prolong life? Or, in reality, serving as a vehicle for draining money out of the taxpayer’s pockets without a rational reason behind the research? Or better yet, serving as a means to impose “back door gun control” on law-abiding citizens?

“All it took was a little romance, he said. As for Topa's wicked temper, he added: ‘When you get old, you get a little crotchety. But he still has an eye for the chicks.’"

Cute story – but Topa wasn’t the only one getting screwed … both the taxpayer who is paying for research which does not answer a specific question and which preserves something as useful as a large, smelly buzzard as well as the California Condon population itself.

What can YOU do?

Recognize when scientists are using specious scientific studies without a major purpose to milk valuable funding resources from taxpayers when these same resources could be funding disease research to save lives. Watch for those who use carefully culled quotations and selected statistics, and portray them as fact.

Pure science has its place, but one would assume that there must be some value to keeping these birds from going extinct. However, nobody can explain it to me. Especially since the continual inbreeding has artificially weakened the gene pool and is likely to result in severely impaired California Condor mutants.

And using the suspicious connection between the California Condor and lead bullets to impose hunting bans and ammunition control is, at least in my mind, both disingenuous and absolutely wrong. I honestly believe that the environmental movement has been infiltrated by far left liberals who want to disarm America at any price – possibly as a precursor to overt socialism and government domination. While it may sound foolish to some, consider the lengths at which environmentalists have gone to keep the United States from becoming energy independent (control of oil resources and prevention of nuclear energy generation) and to impose suffering on the population (think the Sacramento Smelt crippling water distribution to Southern California) and you may have some appreciation of the end-game being played by these activists who attempt to play on our emotions. I personally would like to review the blood tests of those Condors raised in captivity and those ranging for food in the wild. Perhaps, we might find that there is little or no correlation between lead shot and lead levels found in relatively wild Condors.

Bottom line: If Topa Topa and his relatives are really domestic versions of the California Condor and that artificial feeding programs and medical attention are necessary to sustain the remainder of the wild Condors, then the wild animal recovery provisions of the Endangered Species Act have not been met by the extremely expensive and ongoing failed experiment.

Consequently, the argument for the control of ammunition in wide swaths of California are unnecessary and are the result of over-zealous political activists.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “The scientific name for an animal that doesn't either run from or fight its enemies is lunch.” -- Michael Friedman

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Quite the condor conversion - Los Angeles Times

Full Disclosure: I am a life member (Benefactor Level) of the National Rifle Association and support scientifically-based conservation efforts which make sense and do not require millions of dollars to create an artificial environment for “wild animals.”


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