|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Yurok Tribe hopes California condors can be reintroduced in Klamath River Basin

  • A Native American tribe wanting to reintroduce California condors in the Klamath River Basin says five years of studies show promise that North American's largest bird will once again soar over Northern California and Southern Oregon.
    • email print
  • »  RELATED CONTENT
  • A Native American tribe wanting to reintroduce California condors in the Klamath River Basin says five years of studies show promise that North American's largest bird will once again soar over Northern California and Southern Oregon.
    The Yurok Tribe says habitat and food availability look good for returning the carrion-eating condors to the region, while lead poisoning from eating gut piles and carcasses contaminated with lead bullets is "still a concern," says Chris West, the tribe's senior biologist.
    Levels of the banned pesticide DDT are lower here than in other regions, such as Big Sur, Calif., where condors have already been released, West says. But the presence of DDT in marine mammals that could become condor food is a concern, because DDT and lead are considered the two main limiting factors for wild condor survival.
    Those studies make reintroduction of condors here appear viable.
    "I think it's a step that is kind of rearing its head," West says.
    Because the birds, with wingspans of up to 10 feet, are known to fly up to 300 miles a day in search of carrion, the Rogue River Basin would be a logical place for the birds to frequent or to establish themselves, experts say.
    According to the Oregon Zoo, condors occupied much of North America during the Pleistocene Era, which ended about 10,000 years ago.
    The condors were native to most large basins here and were documented in the Klamath, Umpqua and Columbia drainages. The last confirmed Oregon sighting was in 1904 near Drain, within the Umpqua Basin southwest of Cottage Grove.
    By 1940, their range had been reduced to the coastal mountains of Southern California, and in 1967 condors were added to the first federal list of endangered species.
    In 1987, the 17 condors remaining in the wild were brought into captivity, and a captive-breeding program was developed, according to the zoo.
    So far, condor populations have been re-established only in Arizona, Southern California and Mexico, so the Klamath would be the most northerly site for the efforts to return these massive birds to North America.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar