A female California condor in Zion National Park.Photo: National Park Service, via AP, The Washington Post

The Federal Government announced last week that their efforts to conserve the largest flying bird in North America, the California Condor, have reached a new milestone of success – the 1000th new baby. According to The Washington Post, in 1982, the population of this majestic creature had fallen to only 22 remaining and it had been written off. But thanks to a captive breeding program and the work of public-private partnerships between the government and non-profits, there is now hope that the species will recover.

Why This Matters: The news of the potential extinction crisis is so grim, it is good to have a success to celebrate. The population is not fully self-sustaining yet – only about half of them live in the wild — but it is on the way there thanks to funding and research. And we could do more of this, if only we made this our national goal, rather than exploiting fossil fuels and other natural resources and destroying habitat without regard to the impacts on species.

Not Out of the Woods Yet.

The current population is about 500 now – and they are found in Southern California, Arizona, Southern Utah, and in Mexico.

  • The latest chick was born in Zion National Park in Utah – protection of critical habitat is yet another contribution that our National Parks make to conservation.
  • The leading cause of death of the birds it turns out is not lack of food but lead poisoning, according to The Post.
  • Scientists researching their decline found that the birds had been eating the remains of animals left behind by hunters and ingesting the lead from the bullets.
  • So California has now banned lead ammunition anywhere in the state – because lead in the food chain is harmful to the entire chain.
  • Other states are experimenting with requirements that hunters haul off the remains of the animals they shoot rather than leaving them.

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