For the First Time in a Century, California Condors Will Take Flight in the Pacific Northwest

Partners help the nation’s largest land bird return to the northern portion of its historic range


Contact: Pam Bierce, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pamela_bierce@fws.gov, (916) 414-6542

Dave Roemer, National Park Service, dave_roemer@nps.gov, (707) 465-7700

Matt Mais, Yurok Tribe, mmais@yuroktribe.nsn.us, (707) 954-0976

For the first time in 100 years, the endangered California condor will return to the Pacific Northwest. Once on the brink of extinction, this iconic species has made significant steps towards recovery. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the Yurok Tribe announced a final rule that will help facilitate the creation of a new California condor release facility for the reintroduction of condors to Yurok Ancestral Territory and Redwood National Park, which is in the northern portion of the species’ historic range. This facility will be operated by the Northern California Condor Restoration Program, a partnership between Redwood National Park and Yurok Tribe.


The rule will designate the condors affiliated with this program as a nonessential, experimental population under the Endangered Species Act. This status will provide needed flexibility in managing the reintroduced population, reduce the regulatory impact of reintroducing a federally listed species, and facilitate cooperative conservation.


“The California condor is a shining example of how a species can be brought back from the brink of extinction through the power of partnerships,” said Paul Souza, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Great Basin Region. “I would like to thank the Yurok Tribe, National Park Service, our state partners, and others, who were instrumental in this project. Together, we can help recover and conserve this magnificent species for future generations.”

Yurok Wildlife Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen releases a condor during a training in Big Sur. Since 2008, the Yurok Tribe has led the effort to reintroduce condors in Northern California, where the culturally invaluable birds have been absent for more than a century. Photo courtesy of Chris West, Yurok Wildlife Department

With a wingspan of almost 10 feet, the California condor is the largest soaring land bird in North America. These massive vultures are essential members of their ecosystems and play a significant role in the spiritual and cultural beliefs of the Yurok Tribe, as well as many other Tribes, throughout northern California and the Pacific Northwest.


Over the past twelve years, the Yurok Tribe has led this reintroduction effort and completed a tremendous amount of legwork to prepare for the return of condors to the Pacific Northwest. Extensive environmental assessments, contaminant analyses, and community outreach were just a few of the requisite tasks. The Tribe completed this endeavor because the condor is an irreplaceable part of a sacred cultural landscape. Pending completion of the condor release facility, the anticipated release of condors would be fall of 2021 or spring of 2022.


“For the last 20 years, the Yurok Tribe has been actively engaged in the restoration of the rivers, forests and prairies in our ancestral territory. The reintroduction of the condor is one component of this effort to reconstruct the diverse environmental conditions that once existed in our region. We are extremely proud of the fact that our future generations will not know a world without prey-go-neesh. We are excited to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Redwood National Park on the final stages of the project and beyond,” said Joseph L. James, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe.