Arizona's population of California Condors will increase to 41 with the arrival of eight young condors on 18 January. All eight condors hatched last year at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey. On 1 January, there were 198 California Condors in the world, 80 of those are in the wild in Arizona, California, and Mexico.
The young condors will be released in small groups after an acclimation period of at least six to eight weeks. The public will be invited to view those releases. As information becomes available about the release, it will be placed on The Peregrine Fund's web site (www.peregrinefund.org/whats.html).
"We are expecting a very good year," stated Dr. William A. Burnham, President of The Peregrine Fund. "In addition to these eight young condors, there are three pairs from previous releases that are investigating caves in preparation for probable breeding," finished Burnham.
On 18 January 2003, a plane funded by the Bureau of Land Management will pick up eight condors from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and transport them to the Page, Arizona. Biologists will then transport them to the release aviary on the Vermilion Cliffs.
"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 glad we can help by transporting the condors by airplane to Page and by truck to the aviary at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument."
Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Duane Shroufe says that the addition of eight more condors in the state is terrific. "This is another piece of good news, along with the fact that we have various condors in the wild showing mating behavior," Shroufe says.
"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."
"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."
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.
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