California condors make progress This photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows a juvenile California condor, identified as No. 428, wearing a GPS transmitter while perched at the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Maricopa, Calif. (Angela Woodside/Joseph Brandt/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)
California condors make progress
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A captive breeding program that at one time included every living California condor has passed a key milestone. It is helping North America's largest bird return to the wild.
 
For the first time in decades, more condors hatched and fledged in the wild last year than adult wild condors died. This is according to officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
Fourteen young condors took flight. That was compared with 12 that died. Officials say it's a small difference. But it's a big step. The last 22 wild condors were captured in the 1980s. They started the breeding program. It releases offspring into the wild.
 
"That's an indication that the program is succeeding," said Eric Davis. He is the Wildlife Service's coordinator for the California condor program. "We hope that wild birds start producing wild chicks. And that is what is happening more and more."
 
Wild California condors outnumbered condors in captivity for the first time in 2011. This was a comparison with the start of the breeding program. The wild population has since grown to 268 wild condors. There are 167 in captivity.
 
Officials also counted 27 wild condor nests last year. Nineteen were in California. Three are in the Arizona-Utah border area. Five are in Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has a condor nest, officials said. So do Zion National Park in Utah and Pinnacles National Park in central California.
 
The captive breeding program continues. The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey is the top egg producer. The center is near Boise, Idaho.  Six eggs were laid this spring.  Nine more are expected.
 
"So far it's going fantastic," said Marti Jenkins. She is condor propagation manager at the facility.
 
She said two eggs laid at the facility last year were placed in wild nests in California. The original eggs in those nests were either infertile or damaged. The replacement eggs produced fledglings. Officials counted them in the wild population.
 
Other facilities breeding California condors are the Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
 
Davis said about 20 to 40 condors are released into the wild each year. Typically, they are less than 2 years old when released.  They can live for about 60 years.
 
California condors can weigh as much as 25 pounds. They have wingspans up to 10 feet. They were among the first species to receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
 
Officials say lead poisoning continues to be a threat. Of the 12 wild condor deaths in 2015, two were due to lead poisoning. The condors can be poisoned when they eat bullet fragments in animals killed with lead bullets.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are experts attempting to grow condor populations in the wild instead of in zoos?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (13)
  • jolenec-bel
    3/04/2016 - 09:35 a.m.

    They attempted to grow them in the wild because they are wild animals so that is we're they belong.

  • sophies-bel
    3/04/2016 - 09:38 a.m.

    Zoos are for mostly injured animals and not heathy normal ones.

  • elliew-bel
    3/04/2016 - 09:39 a.m.

    So they can learn to feed on their own and hunt for themselves. There growing condor populations because there's only a few left.

  • sarahj-bel
    3/04/2016 - 09:41 a.m.

    Experts are attempting to grow condor population in the wild is so then there will be way more and there will just be more condors.

  • albrimz-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:31 p.m.

    I will tell you the reason that the experts want condors to grow in the wild. The reason they want condors to grow in the wild is that in 2011 the condors outnumberd the ones that are in the zoos. Also in the wild they made more baby condors, and they want ot see how baby condors grow, and see if they have made chicks. At 2011 in the wild there was 268, and in capacity there was 167. That is the reason they want the codors to grow in the wild.

  • andrewh-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:32 p.m.

    They are trying to control the population of condors to keep them from extinction. If they grow populations in zoos condors could die out a lot faster. So, if the experts grow the populations in the wild, they won't die as fast. Zoos arn't the corect homes for a condor, so they have too be released into the wild. That is why experts are attempting to grow condor populations in the wild instead of zoos.

  • trinityt-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:42 p.m.

    There is a place in the USA where the wildlife services are trying to get the condors to reproduce in the wild. There are a lot of places for the condors in California to have wild chicks and hopefully survive.

  • davidc-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:43 p.m.

    The reason why experts are attempting to grow the condor population in the wild instead of in zoos is because, they know that the birds will be able to grow up in there natural habitat, the great out doors. Also another reason why they they would need to raise the condors in the wild is that they need to test how if there senses are working, after two years in the labs. Another reason is that so they can protect them from getting lead poisoning from the bullets that are scattered on the ground ( which they might step on), and the ones from dead animals which they might eat. Finally, its because of the wild chicks so they know how to use their hunting senses and survival skills so they don't depend on us to help them survive. That is why the experts are attempting to grow the condor population in the wild and not in zoos.

  • catherines-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:47 p.m.

    If the wild condors chicks are born in the zoo, they will all ways be dependent on someone to do everything for them and might not be able to do things in the wild like,hunting,making nests,or protecting themselves.

  • madisenl-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:50 p.m.

    Well, the reason why is quite simple. Why keep breeding condors just to have them caged and set as a pretty thing to look at? Breeding and then freeing condors at age two grows the wild population and decreases the chance of extinction. And in 2011 the number of wild condors outnumbered the condors in zoos and gereral captivity together.
    Marti Jenkins, the condor propagation manager, said two eggs laid in the facility were placed into wild California nests, in which the original eggs had not survived. The eggs laid in captivity produced fledglings and were counted in the wild population.
    One of the reasons the condors are going extinct is because of lead. Lead poisoning caused two out of twelve wild condor deaths in 2015. Lead poisoning is caused by the bullet fragments the condors accidentally eat in animals killed with lead bullets.
    A few fun facts for the road: condors can live up to sixty years, their windspand is up to ten feet and can weigh up to twenty-five pounds. Hopefully they will repopulate the wild condor population and save another species from extinction.

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