Endangered Clapper Rails Released
Michael Mace, San Diego Zoo Safari Park curator of birds, watches one of seven light-footed clapper rails released in the 915-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve on Thursday. The endangered marsh birds were hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Living Coast Discovery Center. More than 300 light-footed clapper rails have been successfully bred and released since 2001 as a result of a joint breeding and reintroduction program by Team Clapper Rail, a unique partnership between three breeding centers - San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Living Coast Discovery Center and SeaWorld San Diego - along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Navy, Unified Port of San Diego, California Department of Fish and Game and Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy.
A census of wild clapper rail populations shows that 2012 is a record-breaking year for this Southern California endemic species. Biologists estimate there are more than 500 breeding pairs in 19 wetlands from Santa Barbara to San Diego. In 1980, when the census began, there were 200 pairs in 11 wetlands. San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is a county park jointly managed by San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, San Diego County Parks and California Department of Fish and Game.
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