Arizona now has 33 condors in the wild following the release of three additional birds on 9 December 2002 from atop the Vermilion Cliffs near the Grand Canyon, in Northern Arizona. This is the 12th release in the historic effort to restore North America's largest bird to the Grand Canyon area.
All three condors hatched at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey during the spring of 2001. They were transported to the release site in November of 2001. Two are males and one is a female.
"The recovery of the California Condor continues to make steady progress," stated Bill Burnham, Ph.D., President of The Peregrine Fund. "We continue to look forward to the time when a California Condor chick hatches in the wild in Arizona," finished Burnham.
Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Duane Shroufe says that reintroducing an endangered species back into its historic range is always a high point for a wildlife management program. "This is another one of those remarkable efforts among a host of cooperators. We are delighted to increase the population of condors in Arizona by 10 percent with this latest release effort," Shroufe says.
"The continued success of the California Condor program reflects the hard work and cooperation among a number of private and governmental partners," said Roger Taylor, BLM Arizona Strip Field Manager. "We're proud the BLM's Vermilion Cliffs National Monument can play an important role in this historic reintroduction."
"Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park continue to be delighted by the sight of condors soaring near the rim," stated Joseph Alston, Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. Adding, "Condors from previous releases have nested three times in northern Arizona at the Grand Canyon, which has provided an exceptional opportunity for expanding public awareness regarding conservation of rare species, while adding to the overall experience for visitors. Although the condors have not yet fledged any young, we hope that as the adults become more experienced they will become more successful at raising young and establishing a self-sustaining population."
"These releases bring us closer to the condor's self-sustaining recovery in the wild. The partnership for condor recovery represents a collaborative community working toward the successful conservation of an impressive species," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Dale Hall.
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).
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 and securing the funding for the release, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management are managing the habitat, 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. On December 1, 2002, there were 198 California Condors in the world, 70 of those are in the wild in California and Arizona.
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.
Investigation of Recent Condor Deaths
A $22,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for two of the recent deaths of California Condors in Arizona. The reward is being offered by three of the principal cooperators in the project. The Peregrine Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering rewards of up to $10,000 each and the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Grand Canyon National Park are offering rewards of up to $1,000 each.
Condor #258 was found dead in the Kaibab National Forest in northwestern Arizona. The carcass was found along Forest Road 22 near mile post 27 north of Big Springs. The young male hatched on May 25, 2001 at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and was released into the wild on February 16, 2002 along with seven other birds. He was killed between October 23 - 25, 2002.
It is believed that California Condor #186 died sometime between August 28 and 30 in the Kaibab National Forest in northwestern Arizona. Condor #186 a male, was hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo on April 15, 1998. He was transported to The Peregrine Fund's Hurricane Cliffs release site on the 8th of October 1998 and released with eight other condors on November 18th of the same year. This condor was expected to begin breeding at the normal age (six or seven years).
"The recent deaths were unnecessary and disturbing but will not deter our efforts to establish a viable population. The person responsible, or anybody with information should step forward to the proper authorities," stated Bill Burnham.
Condor #258's personality was highlighted in the May 16 - 30 edition of the "Notes from the Field" section on The Peregrine Fund's web site:
".........Meanwhile, the juvenile and re-released condors continued to keep us busy as they kept exploring new ground and expanding the boundaries of their known world. Our youngest condor, Condor 258 (tag #8) traveled to the South Rim for the first time on 22 May. As with many of our first time condor-visitors to the South Rim, Condor 258 kept his visit short and sweet. He followed the other birds' examples and consistently perched in good spots before returning to the release site on 24 May...............
...............Condor 258 put on a show, soaring around the bridge and delighting the assembled tourists. Suddenly, though, a gust of wind seemed to take Condor 258 off guard. Still an inexperienced young flier, Condor 258 smacked into the bridge support beams head first then landed shakily on a nearby ledge. Concern rippled among the group. Condor 258 appeared to be fine, but remained perched for the next few hours.......... Long after the last of the tourists had left, I watched Condor 258 find a safe spot to roost and settle down for the night.............."
Individuals with information they believe may be helpful should call:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in Flagstaff, AZ at (928) 556-7451
Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.
To obtain video or still images of California Condors, please contact:
Linda Behrman, The Peregrine Fund, 208-362-3811
Jeff Humphrey, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 602-242-0210
Gary Schafer, Arizona Game and Fish, 602-789-3232
For more information, contact:
Director of Global Engagement