On 8 November 1999, nine California Condors will be transported to a release aviary on public lands on the Hurricane Cliffs north of the Grand Canyon. All nine condors hatched at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Eight hatched in 1999 and one hatched in 1995. Two are males, six are females, and the sex of one is to be determined.
The condors will be transported from Boise, Idaho to St. George, Utah on a U.S. Forest Service DC-3. From St. George, they will be taken to the release aviary on the Hurricane Cliffs. After a four to six-week period of acclimation, the condors will be released to the wild. This release will increase the population of California Condors in the Grand Canyon area from 20 to 29.
"When these condors are released, there will be more condors in the wild in Arizona than there were in the world in the mid-1980s," stated Bill Burnham, Ph.D., President of The Peregrine Fund. "The local communities have been excellent partners and we appreciate their continued support," finished Burnham.
The second release site on the Hurricane Cliffs was established in 1998 to provide the younger condors the opportunity to fly and feed on their own before interacting with the older condors. Six months after the 1998 release some of the Hurricane condors found some of the Vermilion condors in the Grand Canyon. Although some of the Hurricane condors have been to the Vermillion Cliffs' site, none of the Vermilion condors have been to Hurricane Cliffs' site.
"We are excited to have the additional nine condors in Arizona and feel that this brings us closer to recovery of the species," stated Chris Parish, Wildlife Specialist, Arizona Game and Fish.
"Recovery efforts for the California Condor in northern Arizona have been an overwhelming success in terms of numbers of birds surviving in the wild. This success is due in large part to the hard work and cooperation of local supporters, The Peregrine Fund biologists, tribes, industry groups, and State and Federal agencies. Our excitement continues to grow as we prepare to release nine more captive-bred birds and we anxiously await the first breeding of wild condors," said David Harlow, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arizona Field Supervisor.
"The release of these condors adds to the diversity of activities that are found on public lands," stated Roger Taylor, Manager for the Arizona Strip BLM. "We are pleased to host the return of these impressive birds to public lands," finished Taylor.
The historic Arizona release is a joint project between The Peregrine Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Arizona Game and Fish, NPS, Southern Utah's Coalition of Resources and Economics, and numerous other partners. The Peregrine Fund, a nonprofit conservation organization headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is conducting the release; BLM is managing the habitat; the USFWS is responsible for the overall recovery of the species; and the Arizona Game and Fish is responsible for all wildlife in Arizona. Regular updates are being provided by biologists in the field on The Peregrine Fund's home page (http://www.peregrinefund.org).
The California Condors are being released as a "non-essential/experimental population" under section 10j of the Endangered Species Act. Section 10j provides that the species can be released in an area without impacting current or future land use planning. This authority has been spelled out further in an innovative "implementation agreement" between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and some local governments. This agreement outlines a positive working relationship between the Federal government and the various local governments.
There are currently 162 California Condors in the world -- 49 in the wild in California and Arizona and 113 in captive breeding facilities (World Center for Birds of Prey, Zoological Society of San Diego, and Los Angeles Zoo).
For more information, contact:
Director of Global Engagement
The Peregrine Fund
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bureau of Land Management