California Condor Recovery Program
A California condor is introduced to a temporary release structure built in the cliffs of a release site.
In 1985, the wild population of California condors consisted of nine individuals. Critically endangered due to loss of habitat and environmental hazards, the US Fish & Wildlife Service moved these last remaining wild birds into conservation breeding programs as part of the California Condor Recovery Program. Seven years later in 1992, the California Condor Recovery Team, a multi-agency effort, was able to reintroduce the condor back into the California skies and has since brought the species back from the brink of extinction.
The goal of the California Condor Recovery Program is to establish two geographically separate populations, one in California and the other in Arizona. As the Recovery Program works towards this goal, the number of release sites has grown. There are four active release sites in California, one in Arizona and one in Baja California, Mexico with condors flying free.
The Recovery Team continues to monitor the movement and behavior of the released condors in an effort to secure the survival of this species in the wild. Aversion training has reduced mortality due to collisions with power poles, while similar training is underway to keep condors away from human-inhabited areas and reduce the amount of trash fed to chicks. The team is also trying to address the impact of lead poisoning on this species. The fledging of wild-hatched condors indicates the California Condor Recovery Program’s efforts are moving in the right direction.