The Return of the Condor

Condor releaseJoint press release:

In a major effort to restore the iconic California condor population, the National Park Foundation has teamed up with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the National Park Service, and the Yurok Tribe to build a facility and monitoring program that will allow condors to be released into Yurok ancestral territory, within Redwood National Park. The donation is part of the National Park Foundation’s $350 million Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.

“To see a condor in flight is breathtaking and thanks to our partners PG&E, the National Park Service, and the Yurok Tribe, people will be able to witness this wildlife at Redwood National Park in the near future,” said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. “We are proud to work with organizations that protect our national parks and the wildlife that call these places home.”

Due to a number of factors, including lead poisoning, the California condor was close to extinction in the 1980s, reaching an all-time low of 22 individuals. Over the last several decades, conservationists and scientists have committed themselves to saving the condor from extinction and reintroducing birds to the wild. As of December 2015, there are 435 condors both in the wild and in captivity. While this is good news, condors still face many environmental challenges.

“The park staff at Redwood National and State Parks is excited to work alongside the Yurok Tribe and our park neighbors to eventually return the iconic California condor to its historic range along the north coast,” said Redwood National Park superintendent Steven Prokop. “This cooperative effort is required to restore the ecological and cultural vitality of the coast redwood forests, and expand the range of California condors, key factors in the long-term survival of the species.”

In support of the recovery of this species, for the last decade the Yurok Tribe has spearheaded efforts to reintroduce condors in the Pacific Northwest, a region that North America’s largest bird has not occupied in more than a century. Exposing a new population of condors to the profuse biological diversity found in Redwood National Park and the surrounding area has a very real potential to aid in the soaring scavenger’s long-term recovery.

This project will allow condors to regain their foothold in their former northern California range and further strengthen the condor population overall.

The multiyear project includes:

  • Construction of a condor release facility at a site in Redwood National Park.
  • Development of a land owner GIS database for Humboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties in California, and Josephine and Curry Counties in Oregon.
  • Design of a remote tracking and monitoring system to better understand flight and habitat patterns.

PG&E has been a long-time partner of the National Park Foundation, and will provide funding and support for this project. The energy company has previously invested more than $4 million dollars in its infrastructure in the Big Sur area to ensure that condor flight paths aren’t obstructed by power lines, allowing the birds to prosper in their natural habitat. “In our role as energy provider to millions of Californians, we’re committed to working in ways that protect the habitat for the majestic condors and all of our state’s wonderful diversity of species,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley.

The reestablishment of a condor population in far Northern California is especially important to members of the Yurok Tribe, which started the region’s first condor reintroduction effort. Condors, considered sacred by Yurok people, serve an important role in the tribe’s culture.

“The condor has played a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”

Public meetings for the proposed reintroduction of California condors in Redwood National Park will be held in January 2017 at the following dates and locations:

1/23 Sacramento, CA 6-8 pm Federal Building, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento

1/24 Eureka, CA 6-8 pm Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, Eureka

1/25 Klamath, CA 10 am – 12 pm Klamath, CA

1/25 Medford, OR 6-8 pm Jackson County Auditorium, Central Point, OR

1/26 Portland, OR 6-8 pm Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland


The National Park Foundation is the official charity of Americas national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Services 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for Americas National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube


Redwood National and State Parks share in the perpetual stewardship of ancient coast redwood forests, streams, coastal ranges, and coastline; for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of people forever; with a commitment to watershed-scale restoration of damaged landscapes. The parks protect and manage more than 130,000 acres including nearly 35% of the world’s remaining old-growth coast redwood forests. For more information, please visit our website:, or visit us on one of our social media sites. We’re RedwoodNPS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit and


With more than 6,000 members, the Yurok Tribe is the largest federally recognized tribe in California. For almost ten years, the Tribe has been working on the Yurok Condor Reintroduction Initiative, a long-term, collaborative effort to bring back the culturally and ecologically important birds to Yurok Ancestral Territory. The Tribe’s aboriginal lands occupy 500,000 acres in the core of the species’ historical range, which spanned from Baja Mexico to British Columbia at the time of first contact. The Tribe selected to pursue this monumental project because of the condor’s cardinal role in Tribal ceremonies. The combination of the condor and hummingbird is considered big medicine. From the beginning, the Tribe knew that collaboration would be the foundation of a successful condor reintroduction program and partnered early on with the National Park Service. The Yurok Tribe’s Condor Initiative includes many formal partners, such as Redwood National and State Parks, the National Park Foundation, PG&E and many others.



  • Yay for the Condors!!!! I’m grateful to live in a state like California. Protecting everything from mountain lions to Condors, we are definitely getting a lot of things right:)

  • Thank you to all parties involved with helping the California Condor. I have always dreamed of seeing one of these giant birds in flight. Maybe I will be able to reach that goal in the near future because of the re-introduction plans.
    (Loudly clapping in favor)

  • Bravo to all the entity s involved with saving the condor .

  • I’m curious, (of course) will the California Condor Migrate? The Turkey vulture does. In the fall of the year there are great “towers”of turkey vultures lifting in the thermals. When they all get high enough (Can I say that in Humboldt without being misunderstood?) they head south.

    The towers of vultures are both exhilarating and depressing. It is exhilarating in that we are seeing Mother Nature at work. These vultures have been following their same migratory habits for hundreds of thousands of years, mostly unchanged except for the paths that they take. I often watch them climb higher and higher, then one by one, or sometimes in great flocks, they head south leaving me depressed to say goodbye and wish them to come back early.

    The Buzzards, as we used to call them affectionately before we were corrected, seem to know what the weather will be, and seem to be a great indicator of an early fall, or when they come back early, it is a sure sign of an early spring. My grand-folks used to trust greatly in the migrations of the buzzards to know when to plant and when to gather their crops. It’s more than just superstition. The buzzards know what the weather will be as surely as they know where the air rises and how to navigate the winds.

    Those that notice these things will remember that the buzzards left early this year…

    It would be great to see great towers of Condors. However, the path that they will have to take to migrate south will be more treacherous than ever. I know next to nothing about a Condor, maybe they will just reside in the redwoods. That would also be great. I guess that it is worth a try. If nothing else it will teach our children how much we have lost from over-population, and disregard for Mother Nature.

    As a side question to the folks that live around the Humboldt Bay. Are the geese early or late this year???

    • Just saw two flocks over the weekend heading south in a arrow formation and honking all the way…

    • Just saw big geese formations coming into the bay a few days ago from the north…it was very uplifting to see them again after a long absence.Theese were some of the first arrivals this year

    • Dont know if they are early or late, but saw hundreds of geese around the bay this morning, against a ground mist and a pink-gold sunrise. It took my breath away. People forget how astoundingly beautiful Humboldt is.

    • For me the first sign of spring is when the Turkey Vultures return, usually only one frost left.

    • Condors don’t migrate. They do, however, range over a huge territory. Redwood Park birds would probably travel the length of the Siskiyou Mountains and beyond. The trick is to get people to stop using lead ammunition region wide. It’s not just Condors – the “buzzards” locally also have a lead poisoning problem.

      • The state made using lead bullets illegal several years ago. First the southern part, then all of it. The reason was supposedly to protect the condors. After a year or so, they admitted that the whole condor lead thing was bogus, but kept it anyway just to get the lead out of the environment. They are trying to move lead into the territory of plutonium in danger. Truth is that every shovel full of dirt in your yard has lead in it. Kids used to eat lead paint off walls in the ghettos. Who lets their kids eat paint.? What is really stupid is that there was an existing law on the books that made soft point lead core ammunition mandatory when hunting. My question always was, if the condors are dying from lead in carrion, why are the vultures not also dying? They eat the same dead shit. It is really about limiting ammunition and making hunting as expensive as possible so people will stop hunting. It used to be nice living in a free country, this is stupid, hysterical asshats running every aspect of life.

  • Could this money be better spent? I love condors, want them back, but with climate change and sediment in our rivers, lack of salmon, etc. I ask if this project isn’t taking funds that could be used for salmon restoration, drug abuse counseling, etc. Ask them how many dollars will be spent per bird, if they ever get the birds. It’s over $500,000 a year per bird. The tribe needs to be upfront with the total cost of this plan for the next 20 years. It’s millions and millions of dollars, yours and mine in the form of endless grants.

    • Compared to the money we will give the pentagon this year, its still a bargain. We are still buying tanks even the military says they dont need.. Good grief.

      • The Pentagon will get its money regardless of the condor project. Why would we want Redwood National Park and the feds paying millions and millions to reintroduce the bird while the salmon and river habitats are in such bad shape? It’s just a matter of priorities. Park Service personnel know this is a waste of money…… good idea, but not a good use of our limited resources. It will take oney from salmon restoraton, guaranteed.

    • “Could this money be better spent?”
      What is the cost of extinction? When the condors are gone, they will be as gone as the Dodo bird and The Carrier pigeon.

      There is no end to drug addicts.

    • First to;….JUST ASKING…The price of two b-1 bomber tires would probably cover at least 1/2 this Condor project. Is ANYTHING worth IT?….. SURE AS HELL IS. LIFE IS WORTH THE PRICE …Second…To Ernie,…..WeReally enjoy your comments, humor and insightful wisdom. Aren’t the buzzards amazing? Ive found three buzzard eggs in my life.They dont make a nest or a sound , except when puiking up supper upon being supprrised, and having to lift of a.s.a.p.. There was a buzzrd around ap swimming hole for 25+ years,it had white feathers on its head and tail as i recall. One of the old locals told us it was 1/2 bald eagle.. Way cool. Some times the buzzards don’t/won’t migrate they’ll stay around Bear creek mall all year in a mild year.[ no om not confusing them with triimmy- gents]Maybe …….its all the people that have been falling off the cliffs and don’t get found for awhile. You know buzzards love a little long-pork. And…. I saw around 150 geese flying NORTH 4 days ago![ from Rays parking lot in gville where any reality is possible] But again we have to remember this is Humboldt…

  • Condors in Humboldt? Hell yah !
    Still a sad irony that the bear on the state flag is extinct , larger than the still surviving grizzly bear, and would never have enough territory to survive in California even if it could be recreated from DNA samples.
    Maybe a Condor on the flag would look good.

  • This is a wonderful thing these folks and others are doing for a bird almost gone!!thanks

  • Condor reintroduction has been ongoing in CA for years. As has the debate surrounding the reintroduction of a species that requires large amounts of taxpayer dollars just to exist. Hopefully the condors on Yurok land will not require the same level of human support that is required to sustain the other reintroduced condors. Perhaps somewhere there is a summation of the total amount of government dollars that has been spent on the California Condor.

    That aside, I cannot wait to see the NorCal condors. I’ve visited the CentralCal condors many times.

    PS They do not migrate.

    • Thank you Randum for the “Do not migrate”. It will be interesting to find if they decide to migrate anyway because of their new environment.

      • Now you’ve got me thinking…

        Which species, now extinct in Humboldt, if forcibly repatriated would choose to return to the only home they’ve ever known?

  • Great news!

  • Awesome story Ernie I Rember as a kid growing up out on the flat sprowl creek. You could look down in the river ,and it would be full of salmon,steal heads ,so many you could hit them with a rock .can anybody say the last time that was the seventy is when it was when the 8 track players were the state of the art stereo. Things were so much simpler then the dial up phone .there wasn’t all this killing and raping of the land .it’s just all the above changes our environment ,and we’re have all the salmon gone ,but we all know the reasons .biggest salmon I ever scene 52 pd king .I think the guy snagged it I think I was 12 would like to see it again in my life time .Hillary Clinton should help the environment instead of taking away the 2 amendment . Just saying

  • While I fully support re-introduction of the Condor if the Yukok tribe is involved it will be nothing but a total money grabbing boon doogle. Hopefully the Park Service will be the ones overseeing it so it is not a total waste. All you have to do is look at the money thrown (and wasted) on the tribe with bogus projects, fully funded by the government to see what a waste giving them any money is. Want examples, o.k., the tribe was given millions to build a campground at the mouth of the Klamath which they did. But it was never opened and was only used by natives to camp at while gill net season was on, even though it was sold as a campground to lure sports fisherman and run as a business by the tribe and give them more opportunity to employ their own. But wait, it gets better. The tribe then sold the government the idea that they needed more money to change the campground and build a cannery at the same spot to also cater to sport fishermen. Over a million more was given and a cannery was built but has sat idle since its completion over two years ago, has never opened and never canned a fish. These are the same self proclaimed “stewards of the land” that set gill nets so thick in the Klamath that its amazing that any fish can get up river to spawn, that kill every deer and elk (any time of year) that comes anywhere near the reservation to the point that they are almost non-existent, that shoot and kill or wound countless sea lions in the mouth of the Klamath because they are competing for the fish the tribe gill net, that many but not all tribe members fling garbage off every turn out near Klamath and many other non-environmental friendly things. Don’t believe any of this? Go spend one day near the mouth of the Klamath (especially when gill net season is open). Based on their past history the Yuroks have no business being involved in any outside funded project.

  • Great job by the Yurok tribe and PG&E Combined!!! Thank you Kym Kemp for posting this!!!

  • And they are delicious!! Kinda taste like a cross between Bald Eagle and Spotted Owl…

  • Pingback: The California Condor will return to Humboldt! – Birds of Humboldt County

  • Crest Mouth Watch

    That is not so cool Mr. ICE this a picture of a 22 round inside a Condor wich is an indagered species lead is also bad for fish.

  • Crest Mouth Watch

    That is not so cool Mr. ICE this is a picture of Condor wich a .22 round inside of it lead is also bad for fish.

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