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Today we are digging into our interview archives to explore a particularly bizarre and fascinating question – how can an endangered species recovery program assist in solving a missing-persons case? 

The interviews that you’ll be hearing in today’s episode were recorded during production for my first film, Scavenger Hunt, an hour long documentary about California condor recovery and the issue of lead poisoning from spent ammunition.  In addition to former condor recovery program field manager Eddie Feltes, you’ll also be hearing from condor field biologist Sean Putz, as well as from myself.  I spent 4 years working as a condor biologist, and recorded several self-interviews while working on this film project almost a decade ago.

Now, most of the time when we discuss the benefits that saving an endangered species might have on human populations, we’re talking about the intrinsic beauty of an animal, or the biological role that animal plays in an ecosystem.  Sometimes we might even delve into the topic of ecosystem services – what benefits does an ecosystem as a whole provide to human communities and how does this one species help that ecosystem thrive.

But today, we’re talking about how California condors are able to directly assist law enforcement officers in the recovery of the bodies of people who go missing in Grand Canyon National Park.

The helicopter leaving the site with the recovered human body hanging from the rope below. Photo by Matt Podolsky.   Upper right – Matt Podolsky holds a juvenile California condor. Photo by Evan Buechley.



Watch Scavenger Hunt – my documentary about California condor recovery and the issue of lead poisoning from spent ammunition.

Condor Cliffs facebook page – get updates from the AZ/UT condor crew!

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