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California condors rise from the brink of extinction

one of the most dramatic turnarounds

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 8 Jan 2016
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0107-california-condor-20160107-story.html

The California condor, North America's largest bird, once soared through the skies from Washington state to Mexico and into Arizona and Utah. By 1983, however, the loss of habitat and food sources had so crippled the king of the vultures that only 22 were left in the wild.

Over the following four years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set out to capture all those birds and bring them into captivity for a breeding program to prevent the species from vanishing. One of them, caught near a Kern County ranch in August 1985, was a five year old male that had flown out of a canyon to scavenge for food. Dubbed AC-4 (Adult Condor 4) and possessed of unique DNA, he was put to work spreading his genes across the captive population. He sired 29 chicks, making him the third most productive male in the group.

Gradually, as their numbers rebounded, birds were released back into the wild. Three decades after AC-4's capture, there are now 235 free-ranging condors — a few dozen more than remain in the captive breeding program. These results, albeit preliminary, represent one of the most dramatic turnarounds ever for a species on the brink of extinction. That's especially encouraging when officials around the globe are battling to save African elephants, white rhinos and other endangered animals.Tagged and wearing tracking devices, AC-4 was returned last week to the same canyon whence he emerged 30 years ago, in an area that is now the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge. At 35, he is only middle-aged for a condor, and scientists hope he continues to produce offspring.

more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0107-california-condor-20160107-story.html
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