Public invited to release of condors at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

California condors have been considered endangered since 1996. There are currently 74 living in the wild, including those released in Arizona.

Peregrine Fund/Courtesy

California condors have been considered endangered since 1996. There are currently 74 living in the wild, including those released in Arizona.

VERMILION CLIFFS. – California Condors will be released to the wild in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona at 11 a.m. Sept. 30.

The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area where spotting scopes will be set up and project personnel will be available to answer questions.

The release coincides with National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands. National Public Lands Day involves the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies, along with state and local governments and private groups.

This will be the 21st annual public release of condors in Arizona since the condor recovery program began in 1996. Condors are hatched and reared in captivity at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and transported to Arizona for release to the wild.

Condors also come to the release site from the Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

As of June 30, there were 74 condors in the wild in the rugged canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The world’s total population of endangered California Condors numbers over 450 individuals, with more than half flying in the wilds of Arizona, Utah, California, and Mexico. The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the program was initiated to save the species from extinction.

The Arizona-Utah recovery effort is a cooperative program by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Kaibab and Dixie national forests among many other supporting groups and individuals.

To reach the site, from Flagstaff take Highway 89 to Highway 89A. Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue for about three miles.

Suggested items to bring along include spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair and layered clothing.

There will be an informational kiosk, shade structure and restrooms available at the site.

A map can be found here.

More information about California Condors in Arizona can be found at www.peregrinefund.org/condor.