Friday, August 05, 2005

Condors at risk from oil exploration

There's oil in the hills of Southern California--which poses a problem for the condors who live there.

A recent decision to once again open Los Padres National Forest to gas and oil exploration could threaten efforts to replenish the condor population, some say.

While the Forest Service said it has taken great pains to protect one of America's largest birds, some environmentalists claim any new development, and the people and consequences that come with it, could harm the condors.

"It's very ironic," said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch. "Here they have the condor sanctuary that is closed to the public, even to hikers, and right next to that they are allowing oil drilling. It doesn't make sense to us."

Biologists with the Forest Service said any new drilling would have a negligible effect on the birds. New regulations for drilling, such as keeping a clean drilling site and sealing all containers, would keep the birds from picking up trash or getting oil on them, which has been a problem in the past.