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, 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.
Currently there are 192 condors free-flying in the world, of which 94 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 50 wild condors in Central California and at least five 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 must also expand our collaboration and include more ranchers and land managers that can provide safe, clean food supplies for the birds, if necessary.
Track the progress of condors in the wild through first hand accounts of biologists in the field:
My Condor Blog, "Stories from the Field"
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.
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. Estimated to be more than 40 years old, and beyond breeding age, she becomes a mentor for newly relased juveniles.
2002; AC9 released back to the wild. Age 22 years. Now breeding in the wild.
2002; April: first chick born in the wild in 18 years.
2003; National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society start joint effort to release condors at Pinnacles National Monument.
2008; Nonlead ammunition required in condor range in California.
2009; Total wild population reaches 189 birds.
Click on the image to the left to see an expanded version.