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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Action timeline

July 30, 2004 – The Center called for an investigation by California’s attorney general into the role of the Tejon Ranch Company in the fatal 2003 shooting of “AC-8,” one of the last original wild condors.

December 16, 2004 – A coalition of conservation groups, Native Americans, and hunters, led by the Center, petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to require nonlead ammunition hunting for large game in the range of the California condor.

September 16, 2005 – The Center, Los Padres ForestWatch, and Defenders of Wildlife filed an administrative appeal challenging a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to expand oil drilling in California’s Los Padres National Forest, prime California condor habitat and home to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary.

November 4, 2005 – The Center and the Sierra Club filed comments opposing the proposed Tejon Mountain Village development, a project that would seriously threaten the California condor by destroying wildlands essential to its survival and recovery.

June 13, 2006 – The Center and allies filed a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration over its plans to expand oil and gas drilling in the condor’s Los Padres National Forest home.

July 26, 2006 – The Center and a long list of other groups — representing almost 2 million citizens — called on California and federal officials to protect Tejon Ranch, which contains condor critical habitat, as a national or state park.

November 30, 2006 – The Center and a coalition of conservation and health organizations filed suit against the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Game for continuing to allow the use of toxic lead ammunition in the California condor’s range.

February 23, 2007 – After heavy pressure from the Center and others, the Tejon Ranch Company announced that nonlead ammunition would be required for all hunting and predator control on the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch to protect the California condor.

April 23, 2007 – On the heels of a major oil spill in the Los Padres National Forest, the Center, Defenders of Wildlife, and Los Padres ForestWatch filed suit over the Bush administration’s plans to expand oil and gas drilling in Los Padres.

May 18, 2007 – More than 40 eminent natural-resource scientists signed a Declaration on the Conservation Significance of Tejon Ranch, supporting conserving 250,000 acres of Tejon for numerous reasons, including preserving its essential role as habitat for the California condor.

September 4, 2007 – The California Senate approved the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act, an historic measure requiring hunters to use nonlead ammunition for hunting big game and coyotes within the California condor’s range in central and Southern California beginning July 1, 2008.

October 13, 2007 – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act, signing the bill into law.

December 7, 2007 – The California Fish and Game Commission approved additional hunting regulations for 2008 that expanded the requirements for central and Southern California hunters to use nonlead bullets in the condor range. The new regulations also required nonlead ammunition for hunting nongame birds and mammals in the condor range.

March 26, 2008 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to allow the Tejon Ranch Company to kill and harass the California condor.

May 8, 2008 – The Tejon Ranch Company and several environmental organizations — not including the Center — announced a deal that could pave the way for massive development in the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles. The deal allows for the destruction of federally designated California condor critical habitat to make way for thousands of luxury vacation estates.

September 9, 2008 – A coalition of conservation groups, including the Center, filed suit against the Bush administration over weak forest-management plans that threaten wildlife in 10 Sierra Nevada national forests, including the condor.

October 22, 2008 – Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Center obtained GPS and satellite data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reaffirming that California condors still feed and roost in areas slated for development in the May 8 “conservation deal.”

December 3, 2008 – The Center reached a settlement with the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Game extending the protections of the Ridley-Tree Condor Conservation Act by eliminating lead ammunition for depredation hunting, the shooting of animals deemed a nuisance or threat. The commission also agreed to consider prescribing a similar ban on lead ammunition for the hunting of small mammals that are part of the condor’s diet.

December 9, 2008 – The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service for the agencies’ failure to protect the California condor, desert tortoise, and other species in crafting a management plan for huge tracts of public land near the Grand Canyon.

February 5, 2009 – The California Department of Fish and Game gave a public update on the success of the first hunting season with nonlead ammunition required in the California condor range, reporting 99 percent compliance with the nonlead requirement.

March 25, 2009 – The Center filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service for their failure to protect California condors from toxic lead ammunition in crafting management plans for public lands near the Grand Canyon known as the Arizona Strip. Besides allowing the continued use of condor-killing lead ammunition, the plans authorized a number of other destructive activities, from livestock grazing to oil and gas exploration.

April 6, 2009 – After two condors from the Big Sur and California’s central coast were found shot full of lead bullets in March, the Center established a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters. Both condors were alive after the shooting, but it was declared that they might never return to the wild.

April 10, 2009 – The Center announced the hiring of a private investigator to assist in efforts to apprehend the person or persons responsible for the March condor shootings. The Center also declared that the total reward fund information leading to the shooter(s) capture had been increased to $40,500.

April 15, 2009 – The Center formally appealed the denial of its request for documents concerning secret negotiations between Tejon Ranch and federal authorities over Tejon’s development plans.

June 11, 2009 – The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency’s failure to disclose important documents related to a proposed habitat conservation plan for the megadevelopment Tejon Mountain Village, planned for condor critical habitat.

July 8, 2009 – It was announced that eight prominent condor biologists submitted comments condemning the construction of Tejon Mountain Village in condor habitat, as well as the habitat “conservation” plan and draft environmental impact statement accompanying development plans.

August 3, 2009 – In response to the Center’s June threat to sue, the Tejon Ranch Company announced it would seek to lift the protective order that kept important condor documents secret. Unfortunately for the condor but conveniently for the company, the announcement came after the public comment period for Tejon Mountain Village had ended.

Photo © David Clendenen, USFWS