Words by Smiley Team
For the first time in over a hundred years, it’ll be possible to see California condors in the skies of the California Redwoods.
Two captive-bred male condors were released into the wild with the intent to restore the oversized vultures to their natural habitat.
“They just jumped up and took flight off into the distance,” Tiana Williams-Claussen, wildlife director for the region's Yurok tribe, said in a livestream.
The birds are the largest native North American bird with a wingspan of over 10 feet, and while once widespread were nearly wiped to extinction in the 1970s due to overhunting, poaching, and habitat destruction. The birds were last seen in the Redwoods in 1892 according to the NPS.
The project was headed by the Yurok tribe, which included aid from local and federal fish and wildlife agencies.
“For countless generations, the Yurok people have upheld a sacred responsibility to maintain balance in the natural world. Condor reintroduction is a real-life manifestation of our cultural commitment to restore and protect the planet for future generations,” tribal Chairman Joseph L. James said in a statement.
If everything goes according to plan, and the birds display the right behavior, then a few more condors are set to be released.
In the 1980s the 22 remaining wild California condors were captured and entered into a breeding program. Handlers began releasing the giant vultures from that group into Southern California's Los Padres National Forest in 1992.
Since then then that flock has been expanding, totalling over 500 birds in the wild and captivity, and has a range across California's Central Coast, Arizona, Utah and Baja California, Mexico. Generally the birds have massive migratory distance when looking for food, so they could expand even further.
Organizations and groups like Friends of Condors and the aforementioned Yurok tribe are continuing work in helping the recovery of the California condor.
SUPPORT: Check out Friends of Condors – they’re a condor restoration group focusing on helping the California condor’s recovery.
VOLUNTEER: The Friends of Condors are looking for volunteers – you can sign up to get notified of opportunities.