Endangered California Condors have been reintroduced to their former range with considerable aid from hundreds of cooperating people, agencies, and organizations.
Every year thousands of people gather at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument to watch one of bird conservation’s biggest spectacles – the release of California Condors into the wild. This year the celebration will go on virtually so anyone and everyone can observe the condor release live. The Peregrine Fund will release up to four California Condors atop the spectacular cliff ledges in northern Arizona at 11am local time on Saturday September 26, and it will be available for you to see live online on The Peregrine Fund’s YouTube Channel.
This event will be a celebration of the dedication and tenacity that hundreds of people who have worked diligently to bringing the iconic California Condors back from the brink of extinction. In the 1980s, there were only 22 condors left, yet today there are more than 500.
This year, with the Covid pandemic affecting our ability to gather in large groups, there won’t be an in-person public release at the Vermilion Cliffs, but you can watch as young condors unfold their wings and take to the sky of northern Arizona for the first time. Because the biologists are unable to schedule exactly when the condors will choose to leave the release site, the event will have a picture-in-picture setup with a camera trained on the release pen, while condor biologists and conservationists who work with these huge birds are interviewed, interspersed with videos of condors and other aspects of the project. Viewers will also be able to chat with the condor biologists who are on the cliff, behind a blind, waiting for the birds to take off – all at https://www.youtube.com/user/PeregrineFund.
Tim Hauck, lead condor biologist with The Peregrine Fund, shared that “While we were disappointed that we can’t hold the live, in-person event this year, we are excited about the opportunity for a more global reach with this virtual event, and that people who normally can’t make the trip will get a chance to experience it with us.”
This will be the 25th annual public release of California Condors in Arizona since the
Southwest Condor Recovery Program began in 1996. The young condors hatched at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and several partner organizations including the Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Eventually, they were transported to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument for release to the wild.
The historic California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the greater California Condor Recovery Program was initiated to save the species from extinction. There are 102 condors in the wild in the rugged canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The total population of endangered California Condors numbers more than 500 individuals, with more than half in the wild in remote areas in Arizona, Utah, California, and Baja Mexico.
The Arizona-Utah condor recovery effort is a cooperative program operated by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie National Forests, among many other supporting groups and individuals. You can get more information about the California Condor recovery project at https://peregrinefund.org/projects/california-condor