California Condors To Soar Over Pacific Northwest For First Time In A Century

The California condor is still critically endangered, but there are signs of hope for the birds. Their population has continued to rise over the previous years. In 1982, there were only 22 birds left in the wild. But by 2019, the population had grown to 1000 birds. The conservation efforts focused on a breeding program at the Los Angeles and San Diego Zoos. In 1992, they were able to begin releasing breed birds back into the wild.

Conservationists are now extending the program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services are set to begin releasing birds from the breeding programs into Northern California’s Redwood National Park. Every year, they hope to release four to six juvenile condors for the next 20 years.

“The California condor is a shining example of how a species can be brought back from the brink of extinction through the power of partnerships,” Paul Souza, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Great Basin Region, said in a press release.

Condors have not been present in Northern California for some time.

The condors’ natural range included Northern California. However, lead poisoning devastated the northern population, but as The Guardian reported, they haven't been seen over those skies in a century. By the late 1900s, the birds were confined to the southern end of California. A new breeding program will be started in Northern California. The project was created by the Yurok Tribe and is in collaboration with Redwood National Park.

The reintroduction to Northern California has been led by the Yurok Tribe.

“For the last 20 years, the Yurok Tribe has been actively engaged in the restoration of the rivers, forests and prairies in our ancestral territory. The reintroduction of the condor is one component of this effort to reconstruct the diverse environmental conditions that once existed in our region. We are extremely proud of the fact that our future generations will not know a world without prey-go-neesh,” said Joseph L. James, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe.

This is not the end of the story.

Great strides have been made to save the California condor. But they are not safe yet. Lead and poaching are still challenges to successfully establishing the birds. New legislation hopes to address those challenges. So, there is reason to be hopeful for the future.

“When I actually see a condor in the sky again,” Tiana Williams-Claussen, director of the Yurok wildlife department, told The Guardian, “it’s just mending that wound that was carried by my elders, is carried by me and that, at least in part, is not going to be carried by my children.”

h/t: People, The Guardian

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