Central California condor population exceeds 100 birds

A California condor soars over the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in California.
©Kim Valverde/USFWS

A fresh batch of new chicks has brought the population of endangered condors in central California to more than 100 individuals for the first time in decades. California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) had been extirpated from the wild about 30 years ago, and managers had to resort to breeding the species in captivity and releasing them back into the wild. But now, five newly hatched chicks in the Ventana Wilderness has brought the central California population to more than 100 birds, and more than 300 birds in the whole state. This milestone brings the birds closer to a possible downlisting from its endangered status. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set recovery goals at 150 birds in California and Baja as well as 15 nesting pairs in each state of Utah and Arizona. The population also needs to be self-sustaining, however, and wildlife managers have been unable to sustain a wild population due largely to lead contamination, which has resulted in a death rate higher than natural recruitment.

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