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Insecticide contamination could be what poisoned twenty Andean Condors in Chile

Posted: August 14, 2013 |   Comments

( On Sunday, Chilean police in Los Andes received a call from locals who noticed a group of Andean Condors flying irregularly and crashing. That call led officials and volunteers to rescue 17 birds that had crashed and were foaming at the mouth and unable to take flight. Two dead condors and another sick one were discovered Monday.

The Andean Condor is the national bird of Chile. Their wingspan can get up to 10.5 feet and they are considered the longest lived bird of any species, with one condor having survived 72 years in captivity.

Six of the rescued birds were taken for treatment to Santiago's Metropolitan Zoo, where they are doing fine and will soon be released from the zoo's veterinary clinic. The other surviving 12 birds are receiving treatment at a veterinary clinic in Los Andes.

Other dead, partially eaten animals were found in the area. Mauricio Fabry, director of the Parque Metropolitano in Santiago, says that some people poison animal carcasses to target predators. Pablo Vergara, regional director of the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service, says that it's possible the condors were poisoned intentionally and has contacted the police about this possibility.

Another theory is that the birds got sick after being exposed to pesticides in the environment. "The hypothesis is that they suffered organophosphate poisoning after they were exposed to insecticides used for agriculture," said veterinarian Eric Savard, who has been treating them.

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