California Condors, Zion National Park (credit: NPS)
When California condor chick hatches, survives, and takes flight in Zion National Park, it is a special event is a wildlife conservation. It is also exciting when observed by park rangers and visitors. The successful fledging, and restoration of other condors elsewhere in the Park, is an example of how the Endangered Species Act, signed by President Richard Nixon in 1973, has proved to be a success.
According to park managers, condors once flew over much of the Colorado Plateau but by 1982 the wild population was down to 22 birds. These were captured to initiate a captive breeding program run by the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). Similar FWS programs had been launched to recover other species of endangered wildlife including the peregrine falcon; black-footed ferret; and the grey wolf.
The California condor is a another of these recent success stories. Over the past couple of decades, captive-bred birds have been released in California, the Baja, and Arizona's Vermillion Cliffs near the Grand Canyon. The released birds are successfully breeding in these areas and Zion's hatchlings can now be added to the recovering populations. Each young condor adds to the wild population in the western United States and offers more hope for these once critically endangered birds. WHB
California condor chick fledged in Zion National Park (credit: St. George News)