The Chilean government said Tuesday that it will continue investigating until it determines the exact reason why two condors died and 16 others were poisoned.

In addition to the two dead birds, government inspectors also found a pair of foxes and a cow dead near the city of Los Andes, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Santiago.

It is presumed that the cow's meat may have been poisoned by local residents to try and do away with the packs of dogs that range through the area and attack the local livestock, but some of the poisoned meat evidently was also eaten by the condors.

"We're concerned and determining all the possible causes that could have resulted in this regrettable incident, so that it doesn't continue to occur and to determine if it was done intentionally or by accident," Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol told reporters.

The minister said that there are six condors being nursed back to health in the Santiago Zoo "who are in good condition and we hope that in a week they can be released."

"To this can be added the individuals that are in the city of Los Andes. Some are already being released and are also out of danger," he said.

Last Sunday, near a hydroelectric plant in the vicinity of Los Andes, motorists and police noticed that about 20 condors appeared disoriented as they flew around and were colliding with rocks and electric power lines.

Police believe that the cow the condors probably ate from had been poisoned or, after it was already dead, some kind of toxic product was added to it in the hope that the dog packs would eat the meat and die.

Mayol pointed out the practice of placing chemicals in a dead animal to eliminate predators or scavengers is illegal. EFE