Condor release this Saturday

Four California condors will be released into the wild in the Vermilion Cliffs Monument in northern Arizona at 11 a.m., Saturday. The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area, where spotting scopes will be set up and experts will be available to answer questions. The site features a new informational kiosk, shade structure and restroom built by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

One of the young birds to be released was hatched and reared in captivity at the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. Three were bred and reared at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

This will be the 14th release of condor chicks in Arizona since the Peregrine Fund began its recovery program in 1996. Currently, there are 67 condors flying free in Arizona, including two wild-hatched chicks that left their nests in the Grand Canyon in December. The world's total population of endangered condors flying free in the wild is 169 (in Arizona, California and Mexico). The birds were reduced to just 22 individuals in the 1980s, when a program was begun to save the species from extinction.

To get to the release site, take Desert View Drive (Highway 64) to Cameron, turn north on 89 to 89A. Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue about two miles. It is about a three hour trip.

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