Release Sites for the California Condor

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An environmental summary by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


Release Sites for the California Condor have been established through the California Condor Recovery Program, a cross-agency effort to release captive-bred condor juveniles into the wild to restore the wild population abundance of the California Condor. Federal and state public land management agencies collaborate with private and nonprofit breeding institutions to acclimate captive-bred condors in the wild with the help of field biologists and public land situated in the Range of the California Condor. Federal land management agencies involved in condor acclimation include the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. Pinnacles National Park is currently the only Condor Release Site operated by the National Parks, but soon will be joined by a Northern site as part of a collaboration between the Yurok Tribe and National Park Service.

Site Management Information

Ventana Wildlife Condor Sanctuaries (Big Sur and San Simeon)

The Ventana Wildlife Society operates two Condor Release sanctuaries located in Big Sur and San Simeon on the Central Coast of California in the Los Padres National Forest. Both sites were purchased from private sellers with funding from private citizens and funding organizations like the Hind Foundation. Juvenile Condors bred in captivity are released from the sites equipped with tracking tags and nest cameras to monitor the Condor's transition from captivity to the wild. They are the only nonprofit releasing condors in California and work in collaboration with state and federal agencies that manage public land. Successful integration of Condors at the Big Sur and San Simeon site inspired collaborations with the National Park Service and eventually led to the establishment of the condor release sanctuary at Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

The National Park Service operates a Condor Release Site from Pinnacles National Park. The release program is part of the California Condor Recovery Program where juveniles are transferred from captive breeding facilities and released at Pinnacles National Park. Condors are bred at captive facilities like the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, Oregon Zoo, and World Center for Birds of prey until they are 18 months old. Juveniles are transported to Pinnacles National Monument where flight pens are used in remote areas to acclimate the birds to the new environment for a minimum of 2 months. While acclimating in the flight pens, birds are monitored by biologists and have interactions with the wild flock through the flight pen mesh.

Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge

The US Fish & Wildlife Service operates a Condor Release Site in Southern California at The Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The USFWS works in collaboration with condor breeders like the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Zoological Society of San Diego, World Center for Birds of Prey, The Peregrine Fund, the Oregon Zoo, The Mexico Zoo, Ventana Wildlife Society, and the Santa Barbara Zoo. These breeders provide juvenile birds to the USFWS where they are naturalized to wild habitats by field biologists and monitored using GPS tracking tags and nesting cages.

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

The US Fish & Wildlife Service operates a Condor Release Site from the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.

Baja California, Mexico Condor Release Site

A Condor Release Site is operated by several international partners, including the Autonomous University of Baja California and the San Diego Zoo, in the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park in Baja California, Mexico.

Upcoming Northern California Release Site

The National Park Service is currently collaborating with the Yurok Tribe to plan the establishment a Northern California Condor Release Sanctuary.



This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.