An Andean condor in the conservation breeding program at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. John R. Platt / The Revelator / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0<p>The deaths are particularly alarming because condors already face a range of other threats, including illegal hunting, lead poisoning (similar to <a href="https://therevelator.org/saving-california-condors/" target="_blank">California condors</a>) and collisions with power lines.</p><p>On top of that, their populations grow slowly under the best of circumstances.</p><p>"Condors have a very low reproductive rate," Piña explains. They don't reach sexual maturity until they're 9 or 10 years old, and then they only nest every two years and raise a single chick at a time.</p><p>It's now likely that more Andean condors are dying than are being born.</p><p>"These deaths occur at a rate and on a scale that does not allow the natural recovery of individuals to the population," says Piña.</p><p>And it's not just the condors being killed. The bodies of animals from eight other species have been found near dead condors, according to the paper. These include American black vultures (<em>Coragyps atratus</em>), kelp gull (<em>Larus dominicanus</em>), Molina's hog-nosed skunks (<em>Conepatus chinga</em>) and pumas (<em>Puma concolor</em>).</p><p>The poisons are also potentially harmful to humans. "There are oral records of cases of people poisoned by the placement of these poisons," Piña says. This poses a risk for officials tasked with cleaning up kill sites. The EPA links acute short-term <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/parathion.pdf" target="_blank">parathion exposure</a> to central nervous disorders, depressed red blood cell activity, nausea and other health risks.</p>
An Andean condor spreads its wings at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. John R. Platt / The Revelator / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0<p>With the condors fulfilling so many important roles, and the frequency of poisonings increasing, how do we solve this problem?</p><p>Piña and his fellow researchers recommend a three-tier approach.</p><p>The first involves educating livestock owners about the importance of condors and the health risks from the pesticides. "We believe that working on education about the dangerousness of the use of these toxic baits is one of the lines of action needed to address this problem," Piña says.</p><p>That won't solve everything, he acknowledges, because some people already know the poisons are dangerous but use them anyway.</p><p>That brings us to the second solution: protecting livestock. "It's essential to find ways to reduce predation without affecting environmental health," Piña says. "An example could be the incorporation of cattle protection dogs, which have been shown to considerably reduce predation in Patagonia Argentina." The researchers have started studies with cattle breeders to understand various techniques already in use in different parts of the country, as well as how ranchers perceive livestock losses they experience.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
EcoWatch has long documented attempts by the Trump administration's Interior Department to weaken Endangered Species Act protections, but what does that mean for individual species? That is the question the Endangered Species Coalition set out to answer in a new report, which outlines how President Donald Trump's proposed policies could impact 10 vulnerable animal species.
By Valeria Sorgato
On Jan. 23, a new national park joined Ecuador's 54 protected areas. Río Negro-Sopladora National Park lies in southern Ecuador's Morona Santiago and Azuay provinces within the Cordillera Real Oriental mountain range and next to Sangay National Park. The area is dominated by almost-intact Andean páramos—treeless alpine plateaus—and forests that are home to a great variety of animal and plant species.