Two charged with shooting at endangered Calif. condor

March 18, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

Two men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly shooting at an endangered California condor in the Los Padres National Forest in July 1992.

Cesario Quinteros Campos, 32, of the Los Angeles-area city of Long Beach, was arrested at his home yesterday by U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents. Ricardo Contreras Tirado, 23, also of Long Beach, remained at large.

Both men were charged with shooting at an endangered species, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and $50,000 fine.

Mr. Tirado also was charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"We're pleased that there's some action being taken on this," said Marc Weitzel, condor project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"It does send a message to the community that the federal government will use optimal protection for these birds," Mr. Weitzel said. "The federal government does take enforcement of the Endangered Species Act very seriously."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Beaman said that the public is very disturbed by the shootings.

"These are the rarest of any endangered species. We spent all this effort and these were the first two to be released. People do care about this."

On July 19, 1992, a field biologist working with the condor project was observing a California condor named Xewe when he heard shots fired nearby, Ms. Beaman said.

"They shot a gun three times at the condor Xewe," Ms. Beaman said. "They each took different shots at the condor. Fortunately, one of the wildlife biologists . . . was watching."

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