The Yurok Tribe, in partnership with Redwood National and State Parks, has made a huge stride in the recovery of Prey-go-neesh (California Condors). After years of careful planning and development of a comprehensive management plan for reintroduction, on May 4, 2022, two condors were released in their former range, which they have not inhabited since 1892.
Condors provide critical ecosystem services in places where other large scavengers, such as grizzly bears and wolves, are no longer present by removing large carcasses and reducing potential for disease. Large sharp condor beaks are able to tear hides and make large remains available to smaller scavengers.
Prey-go-neesh plays a prominent role in the Yurok Tribe’s creation story and fallen feathers are featured in regalia that is used in the White Deerskin Dance and Jump Dance. Since time immemorial, the Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, Wiyot, Tolowa Dee-ni’ and other tribes lived in balance with condors until early settler days, when condors were extirpated from their range due to poaching, agricultural chemicals (DDT), lead poisoning and habitat destruction.
Condors were one of the first species to be placed on the federal endangered species list as populations declined in the west. In 1987 the last few condors were collected and put into a captive breeding program, and in the 1990’s condor reintroduction began.
In 2008, the Yurok Tribe began planning condor reintroduction, and finally, 14 years later, the first pair is now soaring over the Klamath River valley, and more are awaiting release! You can check out the Yurok Condor Live Stream here to see the condors and learn more about upcoming release plans.