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Public Invited To Watch California Condor Release Sept. 22

California California
Photo Courtesy of The Phoenix Zoo
A head shot of an adult California Condor.

Like every year since 1996, captive-born condors will be released into the wild next month in Northern Arizona – and the public is invited to watch the endangered creatures take flight.

Allen Zufelt, who runs the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s California condor program, said the birds will be released off a ledge, 1,000 feet up, at Vermillion Cliffs Monument.

“This is their very first steps into the wild,” he said, “and literally the first step we’re asking these birds to take is to jump off a cliff.”

And while only two to four birds are typically released, Zufelt said hundreds of humans usually show up to watch.

“It always is encouraging to me that there’s this much interest in society for this bird, which a lot of people would consider ugly, to drive these long, long hours to get to these remote locations, just for the chance to get to see one,” he said. “It tells me that what we’re doing matters to people.”

The condors will be released 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, by the Peregrine Fund. To reach the release site, take Highway 89A from Kanab or Page to the Vermilion Cliffs. Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue almost 3 miles.

For more information about California Condors in Arizona visit the Perigrine Fund  website

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.