Oregonians may be seeing a rare site in the coming years. A proposal to reintroduce the highly endangered California condor in Redwood National Park could mean North America’s largest land bird will once again take flight over the Pacific Northwest.
The California condor once soared over the West, from Baja to British Columbia.
“In the journals of Lewis and Clark, they have sketches of a condor head there at the mouth of the Columbia River. There were condors there in numbers when they made their journeys and observations of the natural history of the Northwest,” says Dave Roemer of Redwood National Park.
But the population plummeted with white settlement, eventually down to 22 birds. A breeding program has brought the numbers back to more than 400, but none live in the Northwest.
The Yurok Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service want to change this. They’re hoping to start reintroducing the birds as early as 2018.
The California condor is an important bird culturally for the Yurok Tribe of coastal Northern California. The feathers of the giant bird were used ceremonially and have started to be incorporated once again.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on their plan at public meetings near Medford, Oregon, and in Portland this week, as well as at various locations in California.
“The reason why we’re traveling so far is that California condors may also travel far,” Romer says.
Romer says while the bird poses no threat to humans, other condor releases have been met with concerns about restrictions that could come with the reintroduction of an endangered species.
Sacramento, Calif. - Monday, 6-8 p.m., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Offices, 2800 Cottage Way
Eureka, Calif. - Tuesday, 6-8 p.m., Wharfinger Bldg., 1 Marina Way
Klamath, Calif. - Wednesday, 10 am-noon, Yurok Tribe Headquarters, 190 Klamath Blvd.
Central Point, Ore. - Wednesday , 6-8 p.m., Jackson County Auditorium, 7520 Table Rock Rd.
Portland - Thursday, 6-8 p.m., Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Rd.