Monday, August 18, 2003

More Sierra Madre

Hi all,
Just spent another weekend on the Sierra Madre, this time accompanied by
Anthony Prieto of Santa Barbara. For those of you who don’t know
Anthony, he is a long-time volunteer with the Recovery Program, an avid
hunter, an artist, and a Spanish speaker. He painted the amazing condor
mural on the Hi Mt. Lookout. Anthony and I spent Saturday and Sunday
driving the ridge from Santa Barbara Canyon to Miranda Pines. Though
there were fewer hunters out this weekend, thanks to Anthony’s Spanish
skills, we were able to talk with every group we came across. We were
armed with a new round of USFWS fliers written in Spanish(!!) and had
some great conversations with folks from as far a way as Riverside,
Lancaster, Pomona, and San Bernadino.
Seems as though most of the hunters on the Sierra Madre are aware of the
lead issue and have modified their hunting practices in an effort to
protect their hunting environment. Again, we ran into a few who had
already read Dr. Fry’s report, and again, some were more skeptical than
others. After two weekends on the Ridge, I feel like there are two
distinct subsets of hunters out there. The majority seem to be
exceptionally responsible folks who are already using (some for years
now) copper- jacketed or all-copper loads. Common bullets used by these
folks included Barnes-X, Nosler, Winchester Fail-Safe, Hornidy
Innerbond, and Federal, most of which are hand loaded by the hunter. The
minority of Sierra Madre hunters seem to be those folks who buy the
cheapest, most readily available factory loads for their rifle. These
hunters often had no idea what brand they were shooting, usually pulling
a shell out of their pocket to check the brand name for us. Everyone we
talked to, though, seemed to understand the necessity to bury their
gutpiles and recover their bullets. On a happy note, I noticed that the
trash buildup along the road and at McPherson Gate was dramatically
reduced from last weekend, so someone is obviously cleaning up after
themselves and others out there.
Though we had no condors to track along the Ridge last weekend, I feel
like we made some great connections and most folks seemed happy to see
“the condor people” out amongst the hunt. Almost every hunter who has
used this area for a few years has a condor story to tell. Trips like
this are are great opportunities to connect with hunters, spread the
word, and to let them know that the Recovery Program doesn’t view them
as enemies, but as potential partners. I can honestly say the the bulk
of the hunters we spoke with over the last two weekends on the Ridge
feel no resentment toward the condor and the Recovery Program at all.
They are just as awed by the condor as anyone else and willing to do
what they can to help them along the rocky road to recovery.
Paul Andreano