April 30, 2003
For More Information Please Contact Peter Galvin (707) 986-7805GROUPS DENOUNCE 'SLAP ON WRIST' CHARGES IN KILLING OF CONDOR AC-8
CITIZEN PROSECUTION OF KILLER VOWED
Conservationists are reacting with disbelief and outrage over the failure of the U.S. Department of Justice to file charges under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against the killer of condor AC-8.
AC-8 was found shot to death on February 13, 2003 on the Tejon Ranch in Kern County, California. AC-8 was shot during a pig hunting event licensed by Tejon Ranch Corp.
Today it was announced that the killer of AC-8, Britton Cole Lewis of Tehachapi, will not be charged with violating the ESA and instead will be charged with a lesser infraction under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Condor AC-8 was one of only about eighty endangered California condors remaining in the wild. She was born in the wild, and in 1986 became one of the last wild condors to be captured for a captive breeding program intended to rescue the giant birds from extinction. After hatching twelve eggs in captivity, Condor AC-8 was released in April 2000, the first of the original wild birds to be let free.
Peter Galvin, California and Pacific Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, stated, "This weak enforcement action is an outrage to anyone who cares about protecting our legacy for future generations. The slap on the wrist charges filed by the Bush Administration in this case, once again clearly show their complete lack of commitment to protect America's endangered wildlife and national heritage." Galvin added, "U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to vigorously uphold our nation's laws, including environmental laws, when he took office. The weak charges filed in this case are a disgrace to the office of Attorney General, to the memory of condor AC-8, and the condor recovery program as a whole."
"The Center for Biological Diversity vows to independently continue the legal prosecution effort against the killer until justice for the memory of condor AC-8 is achieved," Galvin warned.