Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised conservationists when he signed legislation on Saturday that will protect the California Condor. The Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act requires the use of nonlead bullets for big-game hunting in the condor's range — a mandate that many hunting groups opposed.
"Gov. Schwarzenegger is very pro-hunting and pro-gun rights," said Michael Fry, American Bird Conservancy's director of conservation advocacy. "His signing this bill is a confirmation that this law is not anti-gun — it is an anti-lead measure."
Kelly Sorenson of the Ventana Wilderness Society told the Ventura County Star that he expected a veto. Schwarzenegger's move, he said, "gives us hope that condors will be able to survive in the wild just as all the other birds do."
"This is a landmark event in condor history," said John Moir, author of Return of the Condor (reviewed here). "Finally, finally, the species has a decent chance of true recovery." Look for an in-depth story from John about the last 20 years of condor recovery in our upcoming December issue. — M.M.
Update: Applause from Audubon California, which deserves credit for mobilizing support for a ban.