Monday, July 11, 2022

Fourth California Condor Readied for Release (with Video)

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2022 at 12:33 PM

click to enlarge A1 is set to be released on Tuesday. - MATT MAIS/YUROK TRIBE
  • Matt Mais/Yurok Tribe
  • A1 is set to be released on Tuesday.
The Northern California Condor Restoration Program is readying to release a fourth California condor Tuesday to join three others currently flying free in the skies over Humboldt County.

Known as A1, the young male’s first out-of-enclosure debut was delayed by a faulty satellite transmitter, which was replaced last week (see video below). If all goes as planned, he will soon join his fellow cohort members A2, A3 and A4 out in the wild sometime tomorrow.


“The timing of the release is contingent upon a few factors. The NCCRP will wait for free-flying prey-go-neesh to be present at the management facility before they initiate the release procedure,” a news release from the Yurok Tribe states. “The presence of additional prey-go-neesh will ensure A1 is as calm as possible during the transition into the wild. Prior to the release, A1 must voluntarily enter and exit a staging pen with access to the outside world.”

Read more about the Yurok Tribe's effort to return the endangered bird they know as prey-go-neesh to the northern reaches of its once vast territory here. (Just a note, when the story went to print A0 — the cohort’s sole female — had been on a long sojourn but she has since safely returned to management and release site.)


Tomorrow’s anticipated release can be viewed live via the Yurok Condor Cam, which can be found here: https://www.yuroktribe.org/yurok-condor-live-feed.

Another cohort of young condors is expected to arrive on the North Coast in late summer or early fall, a process that will continue each year for at least the next two decades, with the ultimate goal of building a self-sustaining condor population in the region that will eventually spread to the Pacific Northwest.


Read the Yurok Tribe release below:



On Tuesday, July 12, the Northern California Condor Restoration Program (NCCRP) will attempt to release a fourth California condor (prey-go-neesh) into Yurok ancestral territory and Redwood National Park, where the critically endangered birds have been absent for more than a century.


The timing of the release is contingent upon a few factors. The NCCRP will wait for free-flying prey-go-neesh to be present at the management facility before they initiate the release procedure. The presence of additional prey-go-neesh will ensure A1 is as calm as possible during the transition into the wild. Prior to the release, A1 must voluntarily enter and exit a staging pen with access to the outside world. The release can be viewed live via the Yurok Condor Cam, which can be found here: https://www.yuroktribe.org/yurok-condor-live-feed The NCCRP is a partnership between the Yurok Tribe and Redwood National and State Parks (NPS).


A1 will join Ney-gem' 'Ne-chween-kah (A0), Poy'-we-son (A3) and Nes-kwe-chokw' (A2), which represent the first prey-go-neesh to soar over Yurok skies since 1892. A1 is the final member of the first condor cohort to be released into the redwood region. The second group of birds is expected to arrive next month for a late summer/early fall release. The NCCRP plans to reintroduce one cohort of prey-go-neesh every year for at least the next two decades.


The NCCRP released the first three prey-go-neesh on two separate days in May. The staggered reintroduction is one component of a comprehensive management plan for the new population. Monitored seven days a week, the previously released prey-go-neesh are adjusting exceptionally well to their new environment. NCCRP biologists and technicians regularly observe the birds exhibiting healthy behaviors, such as feeding, soaring, and finding appropriate and safe roosts. The cultural and environmental restoration project is off to an amazing start.


The Yurok Tribe and Prey-go-neesh



For the Yurok Tribe, condor reintroduction is more than a rewilding project. In a very real way, restoring condor habitat and returning prey-go-neesh to the Yurok landscape signifies progress toward restoration of Yurok culture and traditions. Prey-go-neesh is prominently featured in the Yurok creation story. The condor is also an essential component of the Tribe’s White Deerskin Dance and Jump Dance, both of which aim to bring balance to the world.


The Yurok Tribe started working in earnest on condor reintroduction in 2008. For the Yurok Tribe, the restoration of this sacred species is part of a larger effort to restore the temperate rainforest ecosystem. Initial funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed the Yurok Wildlife Department to implement a study to determine if Yurok ancestral territory is still capable of sustaining condors. With additional funding support from Redwood National Park, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as the Administration for Native Americans, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Global Conservation Fund, the Redwood National Park Foundation, and many more corporate, agency and private supporters and citizens, the Yurok Wildlife Department completed a vast volume of work to prepare for the reintroduction of this imperiled species.


Working in collaboration with the Ventana Wildlife Society, Redwood National Park, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the Tribe designed and built the NCCRP release and management facility. The flight pen includes a simulated, shock-wired power pole (to teach the birds to avoid this threat after release), two four-foot diameter pools and a perch overlooking old-growth redwood forest. NCRRP staff are present 24 hours a day seven days a week to observe the birds from custom-modified shipping containers which form a fire-resistant observation structure, complete with isolation pens, where birds receive regular health evaluations and treatment if required. 


Editor's note: This story has been updated to corrected that the sole female condor is A0.
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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