China pays deer price for condor protection

BEIJING Fri Apr 3, 2009 11:20am EDT

Spotted deer line up to eat at a zoo in Taiyuan, central China's Shanxi province June 27, 2007. REUTERS/China Daily

Spotted deer line up to eat at a zoo in Taiyuan, central China's Shanxi province June 27, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/China Daily

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese conservationists are in a fix over endangered condors eating large numbers of a protected species of deer in a reserve in the north of the country, state media said on Friday.

More than 100 young spotted deer have been eaten by the condors so far this spring at the Luanhe River National Nature Reserve in Hebei province, near Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said, becoming an "unanticipated" part of the food chain.

Nationally, the condor is considered far more endangered than the deer.

"The raptors are growing in number and threatening to catch larger animals, like elk, in the reserve," it quoted wildlife official Zhou Changhong as saying.

The reserve only has 600 or so deer and just 10 elk, the report added.

"An adult condor has a wingspan of more than two meters, and not even wardens can frighten it," Zhou said.

He added that wardens hoped to organize patrols to stop the condors from eating too many of the deer.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by David Fox)

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