At 11:00 a.m. on 3 March 2003, biologists from The Peregrine Fund will release two additional California Condors from an aviary on top of the Vermilion Cliffs, near the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona. The release of two of North America' s largest bird in northern Arizona will increase the population of free-flying California Condors in Arizona to 35. Both condors are males and hatched at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Depending on conditions, a third condor may be released.
A total of eight condors arrived at the release site on 18 January 2003. The other young condors will continue to be held in a cliff-side aviary until they are ready for release later this year. Since their arrival from Idaho, the condors have been maturing and acclimating to their new surroundings in a large release facility on top of the cliff. After they are released, the birds are expected to stay close to the release site and slowly explore their new home. Regular updates are being provided on The Peregrine Fund' s home page (www.peregrinefund.org).
"Observing more than 30 of the free-flying condors at once is spectacular," stated Bill Burnham, Ph.D., President of The Peregrine Fund. "These additional young condors are very important and will enhance condor viewing opportunities in Arizona and Utah," finished Burnham.
"It's wonderful to see more California Condors will be released at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument," said Roger Taylor, BLM Arizona Strip Field Manager. "Their presence enriches this beautiful area."
Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Joseph Alston stated, "Visitors and staff at Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding land management agencies are looking forward to this year's successful breeding attempts by condors in the wild. Our hopes run high that this will be the year that condors take one step closer to a viable and wild population in the southwest. Staff biologists are busy confirming nesting sites; and will be closely monitoring the additional condors from this latest release," finished Alston.
"Working with a broad group of professionals dedicated to sound science to reestablish condors in this portion of their historic range continues to be a career highlight," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Dale Hall. "Local enthusiasm for the program's continued success is an affirmation of our efforts and the acceptance of the condors back to this remote landscape."
A We are fortunate that these young birds, having only been in Arizona for six weeks, are ready for release. The maturity of these condors is a testament not only to the captive breeding facilities, but the hard work of field personnel. As a state agency, we are thrilled to have two more condors in Arizona," stated Arizona Game and Fish Director Duane Shroufe.
The historic Arizona reintroduction is a joint project between The Peregrine Fund, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Southern Utah's Coalition of Resources and Economics, and numerous other partners. The Peregrine Fund, a non-profit conservation organization, is conducting the release, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management are managing the habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the overall recovery of the species, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department is responsible for management of wildlife in the state.
The California Condors are being released as a "non-essential/experimental population" under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. Section 10(j) 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 agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local governments. This "Implementation Agreement" spells out a positive working relationship between the Federal government and the various local governments.
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