For the first time in 100 years, the endangered California condor is expected to once again soar the skies of the Pacific Northwest. The ambitious reintroduction effort will be led by the Yurok Tribe, whose ancestral land includes parts of Redwood National Park that were once home to the condor.
More than a century ago, the scavenger used to be a common sight in the region, but due to habitat loss, overhunting, and lead poisoning from hunting ammunition, the bird’s population decreased to near extinction. By the early 1980s, only 22 remained in the wild. Since then, captive breeding efforts have led to the bird’s return into parts of Utah, Arizona, and Baja California in Mexico.
Now, the bird will be reintroduced in Northern California by the Yurok people, who consider the California condor a sacred animal and who have planned for the bird’s return for over a decade. Their reintroduction proposal was recently accepted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Working in close collaboration with Redwood National Park, the Yurok Tribe will begin the construction of a condor release facility within the park’s boundaries. The facility will breed condors until they’ve grown enough to be released into the wild, which is expected to be as early as this fall.
While the condor population is on the rise, the bird’s survival still faces a few challenges in the golden state. By starting a new population in the northern part of the state, conservationists hope to offer the vulture a better chance at continued survival overall.