Twenty California Condors began the longest flight of their lives on board an Idaho Air National Guard plane on 25 November 1997 when they were shipped from California to Boise to join The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey as part of the captive breeding program designed to recover this critically endangered species. The current population of California Condors is 134.
"With the arrival of these California Condors the World Center is responsible for over 40 percent of the world's population," said Dr. Bill Burnham, President of The Peregrine Fund. "The Idaho Air National Guard plane provided extra ventilation and also allowed a veterinarian to ride with the birds. This significantly reduced the risks involved in the transfer," said Burnham.
The birds began their journey on the morning of 25 November when they were transported from the Los Angeles Zoo to Burbank Airport and from the San Diego Wild Animal Park to Miramar Naval Air Station. The condors were then picked up by the Idaho Air National Guard on a C-130. They join twenty other California Condors at the World Center's breeding program that were transported in 1993.
"We are very excited about being a part of this important effort to re-establish an endangered species. This is exactly the kind of mission we had in mind for our C-130s in their community support role, when we brought the aircraft to Boise last year. By lending a helping hand to our friends at the World Center for Birds of Prey we are able to give something back to the community and provide valuable training for our aircrews at the same time. It just doesn't get any better than that," stated Major General John Kane, Commanding General, Idaho National Guard.
The Peregrine Fund's World Center is one of three facilities propagating California Condors. The other two are at the Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Moving these twenty condors now eliminates overcrowding at the other two facilities, and protects genetic diversity.
The Peregrine Fund, which operates the World Center for Birds of Prey, was selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in November of 1992 to help with the restoration of the California Condors. Twenty condors arrived in October of 1993 and a new facility was competed in August of 1997. The new facility was completed entirely with support from the private sector. Biologists from The Peregrine Fund are also conducting the release of California Condors on the Vermilion Cliffs in Northern Arizona. Currently there are 15 in this area.
California Condors, like humans, are survivors of the ice age and once roamed a large part of North America. In addition to the Grand Canyon, their habitat probably included the Columbia Gorge, Hells Canyon, and much of the southwestern United States. Loss of habitat, indiscriminate shooting, and poisoning reduced the number of condors to only 27 in 1987, when the last free-flying condor was captured and placed in the captive breeding program.
For more information, contact:
Director of Global Engagement