Feds honor heroes for endangered and threatened birds

Western Snowy Plover and California Condor. Photos by Vern Johnson and Peter Wraight

Condor and plover conservationists from the Santa Barbara Zoo

In Region 8, which covers California and Nevada, the Service awarded a team of nine from the Santa Barbara Zoo: Erin Arnold, David Meyer, Julie Barnes, Rachel Ritchason, Rich Block, Estelle Sandhaus, Carol Hunsperger, Nadya Seal Faith, and Aaron Marshall.

“The Santa Barbara Zoo has been instrumental in the recovery of endangered, threatened, and at-risk species along California’s central coast. More than 40 years of partnership has lifted the endangered California Condor back from the brink of extinction,” the agency says. “Zoo staff monitored nests, provided veterinary support, installed and operated nest camera technology, and engaged the public to build support for the species’ recovery.

“Through a successful captive breeding and reintroduction program, the zoo has also helped island fox populations on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz islands rebound to self-sustaining levels, and ultimately these three subspecies were removed from the endangered species list in 2016—marking the fastest recovery of any mammal under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, zoo staff have recently taken the lead in the rearing, rehabilitation, color banding, and releasing of abandoned and rescued Western Snowy Plover eggs and chicks, contributing to the recovery of this tiny, yet resilient shorebird.”


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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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