Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Wind, Rain and Snow Forecast for Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2022 at 2:56 PM

Some more weather is heading this way Wednesday morning with the arrival of strong southerly winds that are expected to stay around for most of the day.

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for southwestern, northern interior and southern interior areas of Humboldt County, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Meanwhile, more rain and higher elevation snow are also in the forecast, with the coast getting hit first around 5 a.m. before the rain moves inland.

"Steady rainfall will taper off in the afternoon, but showers will continue through Friday morning," according to the NWS.

For more information, visit www.weather.gov/eka.
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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Fish and Wildlife to Ban Crab Traps for Recreational Season

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 3:50 PM

Effective April 24 at 7 p.m., the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is prohibiting the use of crab traps for recreational catches due to an increased risk of whale entanglement.

"This restriction is being implemented because of the unusually large number of humpback whales that have migrated back to California waters earlier than in previous years and because of several recent humpback whale entanglements involving California commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear and gear of unknown origin," the CDFW announcement states. "This statewide trap restriction will help minimize risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to return to forage in California waters during the spring and summer months."

The announcement comes one week after the CDFW made the decision to shut down the commercial season early, on April 20, for the same reasons. 

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Monday, April 11, 2022

UPDATE: Snow in the Mountains, Rain, Winds on the Coast

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2022 at 2:16 PM


The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has extended the winter weather advisory to 6 a.m. on Wednesday for interior areas of Humboldt County above 2,000 feet.

"Travel could become difficult at times over some mountain passes at Berry Summit on Highway 299, and at the Collier Tunnel on Highway 199. Chain restrictions may go into effect. Roads will likely become snow- covered and slippery," the advisory states.

The county reports that Horse Mountain has three inches of snow but "the road is open to the towers, and everyone is to carry chains."

Bald Hills Road, meanwhile, has 2 inches, the county reports,  noting that the road is clear and carrying chain is also required.


Enjoy the sun today because the forecast calls for rain and snow.

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for interior areas of Humboldt County starting at midnight tonight, with snow expected above 2,000 feet.

Running through 6 a.m. Tuesday, 2 to 7 inches of snow is forecast to fall, with "higher totals possible in remote backwoods areas," the advisory states, accompanied by "winds gusting as high as 45 mph."

"Travel could be very difficult to impossible," the winter weather advisory states. "The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute."

Meanwhile, coastal areas will see rainy days the rest of the week, including a possible thunderstorm Monday, with some breezy to windy conditions.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

North Coast's Commercial Dungeness Season Closing Due to Entanglement Risk

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 3:41 PM

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is closing the commercial Dungeness crab season statewide due to "assessed entanglement risk," with the North Coast season now ending on April 20 at noon.

“We received reports of additional humpback whale entanglements and moved quickly to close the fishery to protect migrating humpback whales that are just starting to return to California waters,” Director Charlton Bonham in a news release today. “While this poses an economic impact on certain sectors of our coastal fishing communities, it is important to protect both whales and the long-term viability of the commercial fishery. We will be working with the fishing fleet, researchers and other agencies to better understand these recent entanglement events and find ways to mitigate this risk in future seasons.” 

Closures in areas from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to the border with Mexico are starting earlier.

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'Kevin' the Baby Seal Has a Name and New Home, For Now

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 1:34 PM

"Kevin" the seal is being rehabilitated at the North Coast Marine Mammal Center. - EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Eureka Police Department
  • "Kevin" the seal is being rehabilitated at the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.
The baby seal rescued by Eureka Police Department officers who responded to a report of a couple taking the pup from near the Samoa Bridge, putting it into an aquarium and driving away has a new name: Kevin.

The young one is under the care of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, which reports the nonprofit "will raise him until he is old enough and eating fish on his own and then he will be released back into the wild."

Kevin's rehabilitation can be followed on the center's Facebook page.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the center emphasized that "this, folks, is why you do NOT touch seal pups!!" and if a person is concerned that an animal is hurt or abandoned, they can call the center's stranding line at (707) 951-4722.

Marine mammals, like seal pups, whales and dolphins, are federally protected, with touching or harassing one punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and jail time. During pupping season, mothers will often leave the baby seals on the beach while feeding but know exactly where to find them, the FB post states. However, having dogs off leash or standing too close to a pup will stop the mothers from returning.

Whatever the motivation, the people who took Kevin away from the place where his mother left him in safety has separated a wildlife family.

"We now have a perfectly healthy pup who is orphaned and in our care, that should still be out in the wild with mom," the center's states.

To find out more about the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center and how to help fund the rescue and rehabilitation of animals like Kevin, visit the nonprofits website by clicking here

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Report to California Legislature: Prepare for Devastating Effects of Climate Change

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2022 at 10:43 AM

Wildfire smoke turned Humboldt County skies orange throughout the day in September of 2020. These pictures are from around 9:30 a.m. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Wildfire smoke turned Humboldt County skies orange throughout the day in September of 2020. These pictures are from around 9:30 a.m.
Painting alarming scenes of fires, floods and economic disruption, the California Legislature’s advisors on Tuesday released a series of reports that lay out in stark terms the impacts of climate change across the state.

The typically reserved, nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office outlined dire consequences for Californians as climate change continues to alter most aspects of daily life. Much of the focus of the six-part series is detailing the economic cost as the changing climate alters where and how Californians build, grow food and protect the most vulnerable residents. 

  • Wildfires, heat and floods will force more frequent school closures, disrupting education, child care and availability of free school lunches. More than 1,600 schools temporarily closed because of wildfires each year between 2017 and 2020, affecting nearly a million students a year.
  • Outdoor workers — 10 percent of California’s workforce and mostly Latino — will continue to bear the brunt of extreme heat and smoke.
  • Wildfire smoke may have killed about 20 people per 100,000 adults older than 65 in 2020, and is projected to become more deadly. Just a 50 percent increase in smoke could cause the deaths of nine to 20 additional people among every 100,000 older residents exposed each year.
  • Housing, rail lines, bridges, power plants and other structures are vulnerable to rising seas and tides. “Between $8 billion and $10 billion of existing property in California is likely to be underwater by 2050, with an additional $6 billion to $10 billion at risk during high tide.”
  • Extreme heat is projected to cause nine deaths per 100,000 people each year, “roughly equivalent to the 2019 annual mortality rate from automobile accidents in California.”
  • Lower-income Californians, who live in communities at greater risk for heat and floods because of discriminatory housing practices, will be hit especially hard by climate change and have fewer resources to adapt.
  • Housing will be lost: For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area alone, 13,000 existing housing units and 104,000 job spaces “will no longer be usable” because of sea rise over the next next 40 to 100 years.
  • Beaches will disappear, too: Up to two-thirds of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded by 2100.

The report’s unsaid but unambiguous conclusion: Climate change could alter everything, spare no one in California, so legislators should consider preparing for sweeping impacts.

“These hazards will threaten public health, safety, and well-being — including from life-threatening events, damage to public and private property and infrastructure, and impaired natural resources,” the reports say.

Scientists say it’s not too late to stop the most severe effects, although the clock is ticking. Technologies and other solutions already exist to reduce greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other sources and prevent more irreversible harm, according to a landmark international scientific report released Monday. But international accords and plans continue to fall far short, with emissions expected to keep increasing

“These hazards will threaten public health, safety, and well-being — including from life-threatening events, damage to property and infrastructure, and impaired natural resources.”

Legislative Analyst’s Office report

California’s legislative analysts did not conduct new research; instead, they compiled existing data and projections, providing a comprehensive clearinghouse for legislators as they enact policies and approve budgets.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Democrat from Fremont and chair of the budget subcommittee on resources, environmental protection and energy, said he plans to turn to the reports as references and rationale for the subcommittee’s budget proposals. 

“It’s impressive,” he said. “(It) turns the climate conversation into an all-hands-on-deck versus, ‘Oh, this is just some tree hugger over here.’” 

The analysts make no explicit policy recommendations but they advise legislators to consider such questions as: How can the state avoid exacerbating climate impacts? How can lawmakers protect the most vulnerable Californians? And how should California pay to prepare and respond to climate change? 

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat from South Gate, asked the Legislative Analyst’s Office to assess the impacts of climate change on a variety of policy sectors, and the reports grew from there. They frame climate change as a complex, multi-disciplinary problem that requires response from all of the state’s agencies.

Project manager Rachel Ehlers said the aim is to assist lawmakers incorporate climate change into decisions outside of traditionally environmental realms, including housing, health and education. For instance, would a new housing policy “have the potential to inadvertently worsen climate change impacts?” she said.

Last year’s budget package reflected the overarching scope of the problem, proposing to spend $9.3 billion over three years to bolster the state’s responses to drought, floods, fire and sea level rise. 

Despite the state’s climate-forward reputation, critics and many legislators note that California’s follow-through has been inconsistent.

The reports come in the lead-up to California Gov. Gavin’s Newsom’s May revision to his January budget blueprint, when the administration can reframe and update its proposals. Thus far, the proposed budget included more than $22 billion for climate change efforts that include protecting communities against wildfires and extreme heat. 

Despite the state’s climate-forward reputation, critics and many legislators note that California’s follow-through has been inconsistent.

“I don’t at all feel that we are leading the world anymore,” Rendon, a Democrat from South Gate, told CalMatters last year. 

Despite the passage of a $15 billion climate budget, California Environmental Voters, an advocacy group, gave the state its first “D” grade for what it called its climate inaction last year. 

“We’re plagued by ‘climate delayers’ in Sacramento – members of the Legislature who talk about climate change but don’t back up those words with action,” CEO Mary Creasman wrote in a CalMatters commentary

Last month, a coalition of California’s environmental justice advocacy organizations pushed for a phase-out of fossil fuels, and warned that clean air regulators have failed to adequately consider public health in crafting the state’s blueprint for curbing greenhouse gas pollution. 

California is already reeling from climate change

The analysis made clear that many of the worst consequences are already here, even as it noted that future impacts are coming sooner and may be worse than scientists had predicted.

Summer temperatures scorched records as the state’s second-largest wildfire tore across Northern California during the third-driest year on record for rain and snowfall. California must brace for yet more climate hazards, the reports warn, from extreme heat to more severe wildfires, whiplash from drought to flood and sea level rise along the coast. 

Drought clutches California and a statewide heat wave forecast for Wednesday is poised to sap the remaining snowpack that supplies about a third of the state’s water. California’s firefighting arm warns that a record-dry start to the year could spell a devastating fire season ahead.

It’s a disaster drumbeat Californians have heard many times before. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released report after report assessing the state’s climate policies and spending. It has warned that sea level rise will submerge billions of dollars in homes, roads and businesses by 2050, and that the state must accelerate planning to protect state assets including college campuses, prisons and even state workers from soaring heat, flooding, fire and extreme weather.

Newsom’s administration launched a preemptive response to the reports, with the Monday release of its updated climate adaptation strategy. The guidelines pull together plans from 38 departments and address priority issues, such as protecting communities vulnerable to climate change and combating risks to health and safety. 

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the strategy is “a matter of protecting our residents and our communities or natural places from climate threats that are already here.” 

State officials regularly recalibrate the official response to climate change, often in response to dire reports. Four years ago, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment released under former Gov. Jerry Brown warned that climate change would lead to death and property damage on the order of tens of billions of dollars by 2050. 

Though the reports were focused largely on how California must adapt to the ravages of climate change, the Legislative Analyst’s Office has also warned repeatedly that California’s landmark greenhouse gas market, cap and trade, will fail to meet California’s goals to reduce emissions

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Eureka Police Save Baby Seal Being Taken Away in Car (with Video)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2022 at 1:08 PM

The baby seal. - EPD
  • EPD
  • The baby seal.
Eureka Police Department officers saved a baby seal from a couple who took the pup from an area near the Samoa Bridge, put it into an aquarium in their car and were attempting to drive away.

A person who witnessed the incident called police, who were able to locate the car and bring the seal to safety. It is now in the care of the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.

The couple, who were not identified, was detained and the case is being investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They face civil fines of up to $11,000, a year in jail and the forefeit of their vehicle.
This time of year, wildlife mothers, such as deer and seals, often leave their young in a safe spot while they go to feed, including local beaches and mudflats on Humboldt Bay.

"Many people assume the newborn seal is abandoned, but that is rarely the case," the EPD release states. "The best thing to do is keep your distance and leave the animal alone. The mother will return. If people think the animal is in fact abandoned or hurt, they should not approach or touch it and call the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-951-4722."

The EPD gave a special thanks to the witness who called in the incident and provided descriptions of the couple and their car.

Read the EPD release below:

On Saturday we responded to the area of the Samoa Bridge after a caller reported witnessing a couple take a seal pup from the bay and put it in an aquarium in their vehicle. Officers quickly stopped the vehicle and rescued the seal pup. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the North Coast Marine Mammal Center responded to take over the investigation and care for the seal pup.

CDFW says this is the time of year many wildlife species from seals to deer leave their young unattended in safe areas, sometime hidden, while the mother leaves to feed. With seals, this commonly means on a mudflat in Humboldt Bay. Many people assume the newborn seal is abandoned, but that is rarely the case. The best thing to do is keep your distance and leave the animal alone. The mother will return. If people think the animal is in fact abandoned or hurt, they should not approach or touch it and call the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-951-4722.

The occupants of the vehicle were detained and the investigation by CDFW is ongoing. Marine mammals are protected federally by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is unlawful to feed or harass wild marine mammals including dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals and sea lions. If prosecuted, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement could enforce civil penalties up to 11,000, up to 1 year in prison plus criminal fines, and forfeiture of the vessel involved. The public is instructed by NOAA to keep at least 50 yards (150 feet) away from seals. State laws also protect marine mammals and violators can be charged criminally with a misdemeanor.

Thank you to the alert witness who called this in and provided a detailed description of suspects and vehicle!
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High Surf Advisory: Breaking Waves Up to 23 Feet Possible

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2022 at 9:30 AM

UPDATED: The Eureka office of the National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory for the coasts of Humboldt and Del Norte County until 9 p.m., with breaking waves  up to 23 feet possible.

"Large breaking waves along the coast will lead to increased wave run-up on beaches with waves topping and washing over large rocks and jetties," the advisory states. "These large waves can be erratic and unpredictable. Use extra caution near the surf zone as these large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean water."

The National Weather Service is also urging marines traversing the bar "to exercise extreme caution or stay in port until the threat subsides" and directs further inquiries about harbor and bar closures to the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Sierra Snowpack Worsens, Falls to Lowest Level in 7 Years

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2022 at 12:18 PM

Scene at the March 1, 2022 snow survey at Phillips Station. - CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
  • California Department of Water Resources
  • Scene at the March 1, 2022 snow survey at Phillips Station.
Seven years ago today, during the height of the last drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown stood on the barren slopes of the Sierra Nevada, watching as engineers measured the worst snowpack in state history.

Today, snow measurements aren’t quite so bleak. But the snowy scene belies the severity of the drought. The snowpack — which provides a third of California’s water supply — is 39 percent of average statewide.

Worse than last year, worse even than last month, this year’s snowpack is the worst it’s been in seven years, tying with 2007 for the sixth lowest April measurement in state history. It’s not as bad as the last drought, however: The snowpack contains about eight times more water than in 2015. 

The amount of snow in April is considered critical because it indicates how much water will be available through the summer. The snow, historically at its deepest in April, melts and flows into rivers, streams and reservoirs that serve much of the state.

As California’s water officials discovered last year, climate change is upending their forecasts for how much melting snow the thirsty state can truly expect to refill its dwindling stores.

It’s a dismal end to a water year that began with great promise, with early storms in October and December. By Jan. 1, the plush snowpack was 160 percent of average for that date statewide, and already a little over half the seasonal total. 

“Our great snowpack — the water tower of the West and the world — was looking good. We had real high hopes,” Benjamin Hatchett, an assistant research professor with the Western Regional Climate Center and Desert Research Institute, said in a recent drought presentation.

Typically, the snowpack would continue to build until April. But a record-dry January and February followed by unseasonably warm and dry conditions in March sapped the frozen stores, which by the end of the month were already melting at levels that would be expected in April or May.  

Now, “we would consider this to be deep into snow drought,” Hatchett said.

“Our great snowpack — the water tower of the West and the world — was looking good. We had real high hopes.”

Benjamin Hatchett, Western Regional Climate Center and Desert Research Institute

Though state officials reported that early snowmelt has started to refill foothill reservoirs, the water level in massive Lake Shasta, critical to federal supplies for farms, people and endangered salmon, sits at less than half the average for this date. Lake Oroville is only slightly better, at 67 percent of its historic average. 

From Andrew Schwartz’s vantage point north of Lake Tahoe at the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab, it still looks wintry, with about three feet of snow, “plus or minus six inches,” he said. 

It’s a far cry from the grassy field further south at Phillips Station where former Gov. Jerry Brown stood for the survey seven years ago. 

“It’s been a false sense of security when you come up here,” Schwartz said of the snow lab. “Statewide as a whole, it’s not looking great.”

There could be a number of consequences to the early snowmelt, Schwartz said. It could result in more water loss as early snowmelt evaporates in reservoirs, disrupting the balance of mountain ecosystems and speeding the start of fire season. 

“Without the snow, once things dry out, it’s just going to be catastrophic again,” Schwartz said. 

From left, Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, and Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. joined the Department of Water Resources for a manual snow survey on April 1, 2015. This was the first early-April measurement that found no snow at Phillips, an indication, the Governor said, of the drought's extreme severity. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources
In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown joined the Department of Water Resources for a manual snow survey. It was the first early-April measurement that found no snow there, an indication of the drought’s severity. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources

Early snowmelt can also complicate reservoir operations if managers need to release water to preserve flood control space, said Nathan Patrick, a hydrologist with the federal California Nevada River Forecast Center.  

California’s water supply will be determined by how much snowmelt continues to flow into major reservoirs versus how much will seep into the soil or disappear into the air. Climate change is already transforming this pattern as the weather swings between extremes, and warmer temperatures suck moisture from the soil and melt snow earlier in the year. 

California’s Department of Water Resources is working to overhaul its runoff forecast calculations, an effort that has grown increasingly urgent. Last year, the state’s projections for runoff from the Sierra Nevada overshot reality by so much that water regulators were left scrambling to protect drinking water supplies and preserve enough water in storage

Assemblymember Adam Gray, a Democrat from Merced, has called for a state audit of the calculations. “Has the state learned anything from this disaster?” he asked in a CalMatters op-ed. 

This year, the California Nevada River Forecast Center’s Patrick expects more of the snow to reach reservoirs. 

The soils, for one thing, are wetter — the result of powerful October storms that soaked the state. That means more of the snowmelt may flow into rivers and streams. Generally, he said, “We expect it to be better this year.”

Still, increased runoff can’t make up for a paltry snowpack — particularly in the Northern Sierra.  The snowpack there is the lowest in the state, just 31 percent the seasonal average, compared to 42 percent and 43 percent in the Central and Southern Sierra. 

Patrick sees a trend emerging in the runoff and streamflow measurements over the past three years. “One after another have been below normal,” he said. 

“You can deal with one or two bad years, but when you start to get these compounding, three bad years … it’s hard to recover.” 

A boat crosses Lake Oroville below trees scorched in the 2020 North Complex Fire, May 23, 2021. At the time of this photo, the reservoir was at 39 percent of capacity and 46 percent of its historical average. (Photo by Noah Berger, AP Photo


A CalMatters series investigates what’s improved and what’s worsened since the last drought — and vividly portrays the impacts on California’s places and people.

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Return of the Condor: Watch the Birds' Arrival Home on Live Stream

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 2:42 PM

The four young condors and their "mentor" settle into the enclosure on March 29. - YUROK CONDOR LIVE FEED SCREENSHOT
  • Yurok Condor Live Feed Screenshot
  • The four young condors and their "mentor" settle into the enclosure on March 29.


The four young condors have arrived and will spend the next few weeks with a "mentor" bird brought in to impart important social and survival skills before being sent free to soar in the North Coast's skies.


More than a century has passed since condors last soared over Yurok ancestral lands but that’s about to change very soon— as soon as next month — with today’s anticipated Humboldt County arrival of four juvenile  birds.

The moment culminates nearly two decades of effort by members of the Yurok Tribe, whose connection with the bird they call prey-go-neesh goes back to the beginning of time, with the condor considered to be among Earth's first creatures and the one that carries their prayers to the Creator.

In a recent National Public Radio interview, Yurok Wildlife Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen, a tribal member and Harvard graduate, spoke about the importance of reestablishing the birds in the northern reaches of their former territory and how the reality “seems almost unreal.”

What she’s really looking forward to, Williams-Claussen says, is “that moment when they are just a part of our life again.”

This is the "mentor" condor at the enclosure's pool. - YUROK TRIBE FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Yurok Tribe Facebook page
  • This is the "mentor" condor at the enclosure's pool.

But before condors can be seen in the skies over the North Coast, this first group needs to spend some time in a release facility perched high in an area of Redwood National and State Parks with a 7-year-old “mentor” bird that is unable to be released but was brought in to help impart important social skills that the younger crew will need for life outside of captivity.

(Two of them are 2 years old and the other two are 3 years old, still youngsters for birds that don’t reach maturity until around 6 to 8 years old.)

While there, the birds will spend the next few weeks acclimating to the new surroundings, honing their condor skills and preparing to retake their spot as the region’s top scavenger.

The birds’ arrival from a Ventana Wildlife Society facility in San Simeon will be available for viewing on the Yurok Condor Live Feed, which can be found here: https://www.yuroktribe.org/yurok-condor-live-feed. (There is not an exact ETA, but it’s expected to be sometime this afternoon.)

In the protective space, the condor cohort of four will have an opportunity to test out their wings while watching others in the wild, like turkey vultures, flying on the nearby air currents — which condors can soar on for hours, traveling up to 150 miles in a day.

“The carefully designed enclosure features a large perch, a pool and a simulated power pole,” the Yurok Tribe states in a press release. “A very small amount of electricity is flowing to the mock power pole, which is a teaching tool for the young condors. When birds stand on it, they feel a slight shock to let them know to avoid the structures in the future. It does not cause pain.”

Power poles are one of many dangers the birds will face once they are released into the wild for the first time, acting as beacons of hope for their species, which still teeters on the edge of extinction.

The release enclosure where the four young condors and the mentor condor will stay for a few weeks. - YUROK TRIBE FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Yurok Tribe Facebook page
  • The release enclosure where the four young condors and the mentor condor will stay for a few weeks.

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