After Facing Near Extinction, the California Condor Makes a Promising Comeback

More than 300 of the birds
now exist in the wild.

As a kid in the ’80s, I remember news stories about the California condor’s imminent extinction. At one point it was estimated that fewer than two dozen remained. We discussed the topic earnestly at school, and I even recall an animated program detailing the birds’ plight. That was over 30 years ago. Now the once-fated condor appears to be making a comeback, with NPR reporting of a 1,000th hatched chick.

“According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the condor became critically endangered in the 20th century — one classification behind extinct in the wild. The decline came from poaching, habitat destruction and lead poisoning as condors scavenged for carrion containing lead shots.

“Today, more than 300 California condors exist in the wild. Including captivity breeding programs, there are more than 500 in the world, says Tim Hauck, the condor program manager at the Peregrine Fund.

“We’re seeing more chicks born in the wild than we ever have before,” Hauck told NPR’s Scott Simon. “And that’s just a step toward success for the condor and achieving a sustainable population.”

You can read more about the California condor’s dramatic recovery here.

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