California condors as pests

You read that right. Even though there was serious debate about whether it was worth it to try and prevent California condors from going extinct, they're now a pest in Bear Valley Springs, California.

Flocks of California condors have descended upon Bear Valley Springs. Residents, who are allowed to do little to chase them away, say the huge birds peck off roof shingles, damage air conditioners and leave porches coated in droppings. And although the majestic birds, with a wingspan of nine feet, are widely admired, the gated community of about 5,200 about 80 miles north of Los Angeles has seen enough of them.

"A lot of people used to think seeing a condor was amazing," local realtor Beth Hall told  "After seeing the damage they have done, they have become less popular with people, myself included." (source)

If Google Maps is showing me the right Bear Valley Springs, there are two reasons why I'm really interested.

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First, I spent a lot of time in this area (when there were very few California condors alive). The only known localities of Clarkia tembloriensis subsp. calientensis are in the vicinity of Caliente, just a little north of Bear Springs. There were no California condors in the area when I was working there, but it's nice to imagine seeing one soaring overhead if I ever get back for a visit.

Second, when I was in graduate school there were so few California condors in existence that I remember serious debates among scientists and policy makers who cared deeply about preventing extinctions of endangered species about whether it was worth the time, effort, and money that was being spent to try to save them. It was a reasonable debate to have, and I have to confess that I leaned toward the "It's not worth it side", but it's nice to look back 30+ years later and think that even though the California condor is still endangered it's become a bit of a pest in one tiny piece of its former range.