Three endangered California condors will be released to the wild in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area where spotting scopes will be set up, and experts will be available to answer questions.

This will be the 17th public release of condors in Arizona since the recovery program began in 1996. Condors are hatched and reared in captivity at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho, Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park and transported to Arizona for release to the wild.

Currently, 78 condors are flying free in the rugged wildlands of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The world’s total population of endangered California Condors is 405, with a total of 226 in the wild in Arizona, Utah, California, and Mexico. Condors were reduced to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the program was started to save the species from extinction.

When California condors were reintroduced into Arizona in 1996, a special provision of the Endangered Species Act, the 10(j) Rule, was used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain acceptance among communities in Arizona and Utah that strongly opposed the reintroduction. This rule classifies the Arizona-Utah condor population as experimental and not essential to the species’ survival.

Condor conservation in Arizona is funded in part by the Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative that provides funding for wildlife conservation with revenue from Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

Recovery and reintroduction cooperators include The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

To view the condor release, drive north on Highway 89 out of Flagstaff. Turn left (west) onto Highway 89A toward Jacob Lake and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Drive about 40 miles past Marble Canyon until you turn right onto House Rock Valley Road (BLM Road 1065). Travel about three miles to a shad

Image courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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