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As It Was: Wild Condors May Return to Northern California


A plan to reintroduce California condors in the Redwood National Forest next year could eventually return the giant birds back to the Rogue Valley.  Hearings are being held in Oregon and Northern California this month on the plan, proposed by the Yurok Tribe and the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

The condor is essential for the tribe’s renewal dance ceremonies seeking a more balanced world.  It’s been 100 years since condors flew over Yurok lands.  Under the plan, Portland zoo condors would be released to the Redwoods this coming fall at a rate of six birds a year for 20 years, perhaps resulting their return to the Rogue Valley, too. 

The carrion-eating condor has a wingspan of nearly 10 feet and weighs up to 25 pounds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says by 1982 only 23 condors survived, resulting in all remaining birds being placed into a captive breeding program in 1987.  By 2017, their numbers increased to 463 --  173 in captivity and 290 in the wild, including 170 in California and the remainder in Arizona, Utah and Baja California.


Sources: Freeman, Mark. "Return of the sacred condor." Mail Tribune, 4 Apr. 2019 [Medford, Ore.] , mailtribune.com/news/top-stories/condors-planned-for-release-in-northern-california-could-show-up-in-oregon. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019; "California Condor Recovery Program." , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6 Nov. 2018, www.fws.gov/cno/es/calcondor/Condor.cfm. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019; "California condor." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikimedia Project, 9 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_condor. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019;  "California Condor Recovery Program." United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2017, www.fws.gov/cno/es/CalCondor/PDF_files/2017-CA-condor-population-status.pdf. Accessed 21 Apr. 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.