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California Condor Conservation and Recovery Goals

Many organizations are collaborating to recover the California condor so that this species can once again fly free. These include United States Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, Oakland Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish, Peregrine Fund, Oregon Zoo.

To recover a species over such a large geographic area requires the coordinated effort by many dedicated organizations. The recovery goals for the species overall are to have 150 individuals inthe wild each in Arizona and California/Baja Mexico. The goal is to have 15 breeding pairs in each area with a population that is self-sustaining and growing.

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As of January 1, 2017
Currently there are over 250+ condors free-flying in the world, of which over 160+ are in California. Ventana Wildlife Society is the only non-profit organization releasing and monitoring California condors in California. Ventana Wildlife Society began condor releases in Big Sur in 1997 and then initiated a second release site in 2003 at Pinnacles National Monument in collaboration with the National Parks Service. Currently, Ventana Wildlife Society and the National Parks Service combined monitor a flock of over 86 wild condors in Central California and at least ten breeding pairs. In order for California Condors to become self-sustaining, they must be able to survive without intervention. The threats they face, such as lead poisoning from spent ammunition must be adequately addressed. To ensure the long-term survival of the species we have expanded our collaboration and non-lead outreach to include more hunters, ranchers and land managers that can provide safe, clean food supplies for the condors.

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Track the progress of condors in the wild through first hand accounts of biologists in the field:

My Condor Blog, "Stories from the Field"

Monthly Field Notes at Ventana Wildlife Society

Monthly Field Notes from Pinnacles National Monument


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Timeline of Condor Recovery
1890- Estimated population at 600 birds.
1967- Listed endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
1975- California Condor Recovery Program established.
1982- First captive bred condor is born and population reached all-time low of 22 individuals.
1987- Last wild-born condor, AC9, brought into captivity, 27 condors left.
1992- First releases of captive-reared condors in to the wild in Southern California by USFWS.
1997; First release of condors to Big Sur by Ventana Wildlife Society.
2000; AC8 becomes first wild-born condor to be released back to the wild.
2002; AC9 released back to the wild.
2002; April: first chick born in the wild in 18 years in Southern California.
2003; National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society start joint effort to release condors at Pinnacles National Monument.
2007- First chick hatches in the wild in Central California in over a 100 years.
2008- Nonlead ammunition required in condor range in California.
2012- VWS initiates Free Non-lead Ammunition Program.
2017- Total wild population (CA, AZ, Baja) reaches 290+ birds.
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California Condors are being released to the wild in Arizona, Baja California, and three locations in California; southern California, Pinnacles National Monument, and Big Sur. The latter is the focus of this website. In addition to captive-bred condors released to the wild, at each location condors are now breeding their own young and adding to the population.

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