[Currents headergraphic]

July 19, 1999

Predatory Bird Research Group receives $200,000 Packard grant

By Tim Stephens

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) has received a $200,000 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The grant will support important ongoing programs to monitor endangered bird species and will also provide transitional support as the organization expands its mission.

"This $200,000 grant comes at a crucial time in the development of our research group," said Brian Walton, coordinator of the SCPBRG. "It provides an opportunity for us to continue our work while planning to apply our expertise to the conservation, recovery, and management of a wider spectrum of bird species in the future."

Since 1975, the SCPBRG has been dedicated to the recovery of endangered predatory birds, including peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and California condors. SCPBRG researchers pioneered captive breeding and release techniques that now serve as models for raptor conservation efforts worldwide.

Working in conjunction with private and government agencies, SCPBRG has largely met its original goals to restore populations of peregrine falcons and other endangered species, Walton said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing the peregrine falcon and bald eagle from the endangered species list in the very near future. These are the first truly endangered species to recover due to organized human action, Walton said.

The new grant will help the SCPBRG realize its plans for the future, which include efforts in the following areas:

The SCPBRG is a self-funded member of UCSC's Institute of Marine Sciences. The group's current projects include research on bald eagle migrations across North America, golden eagles in the vicinity of the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, and continued studies of the California peregrine falcon population. The group also has an active public education program that includes visits to local schools to teach students about birds of prey and conservation issues.

The SCPBRG plans to begin construction of a new facility at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory this summer. It will be located next to the recently completed Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center operated by the California Department of Fish and Game. The new facility will support current SCPBRG activities in addition to new research to improve the survival of seabirds that have been cleaned after exposure to an oil spill. Researchers plan to evaluate the physiological condition and release procedures for seabirds and monitor released birds to determine their survival rates.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, based in Los Altos, is a private family foundation established in 1964. It provides grants in several major program areas, including science, population, conservation, arts, and children and community.

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