The planned capture of the five California condors remaining in the wild was temporarily blocked yesterday by a federal judge here after the National Aububon Society argued that the roundup would make it impossible to reestablish flocks in the wild.
U.S. District Court Judge Barrington D. Parker issued the temporary restraining order hours after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began setting out bait in an area 100 miles north of Los Angeles where the condors, the largest land bird in North American and an endangered species, forage.
The capture a week ago of a female condor, which was suffering from lead poisoning and carrying several gunshot pellets in its body, reduced the wild flock to five. There are 21 California condors in captive breeding flocks in zoos in San Diego and Los Angeles.
A Justice Department official said capture of the remaining wild condors was designed to prevent deaths among the flock, which lost six birds early last year.
But the Audubon society said that without some condors remaining in the wild, the planned release of some now-captive birds would never succeed. The group also argued that removal of the condors from the wild would not only end studies of their habitat, but would open the area for possible commercial development.