LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Three endangered California condors were returned to the wild Friday after undergoing treatment for lead poisoning at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Three other condors continued to receive treatment at the zoo, said Jesse Grantham, an official of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's California Condor Recovery Program.
The program is trying to create a self-sustaining population of the species, which was on the brink of extinction in the 1980s and even now number only in the low hundreds.
Officials this week announced they were in "crisis mode" after seven of Southern California's roughly three dozen condors were found with lead poisoning. One of the birds died during treatment at the zoo.
The birds started turning up sick about a month ago during random trappings at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in the San Joaquin Valley.
Lead poisoning is a known risk for California condors. The vultures, which can have 9 1/2-foot wingspans, are scavengers and may feed on carcasses of animals that have been killed by hunters using lead ammunition.
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