OUTDOORS + RECREATION

DWR, Peregrine Project ask hunters to help protect California condors

Oct 4, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2023, 10:31 am

A California condor with its wings outstretched....

A California condor flies. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and The Peregrine Fund are asking hunters to help protect California condors. 

Threats to California condors

In a press release, the DWR said California condors were previously endangered. In 1967, they were listed under the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act.

The DWR said by 1982, only 23 were left. 

One of the  23 California condors was in captivity. Eventually, the other 22 condors were captured and placed into captivity for preservation. 

A captive breeding program helped protect the species from extinction. By 1992, condors were soaring through the skies again, according to the DWR. 

Since their rescue from the brink of extinction, the population is now around 500 birds. Ninety-three of these 500 birds live in the wild in Arizona and southern Utah, according to the DWR.

Despite the population growth, lead poisoning continues to threaten the birds. It is the leading cause of death for the condors living in Arizona and southern Utah, according to DWR Avian Conservation Program Coordinator Russell Norvell.

“The primary source of that lead is the remains of shot animals, a common meal for condors and other scavenging wildlife,” Norvell wrote in the press release. 

The Hunters Helping Condors program was launched in Utah in 2011 to prevent the birds from getting lead poisoning from hunting ammunition. 

“The Hunters Helping Condors program is helping to reduce lead exposure, which is helping in the recovery of these unique birds that play an important role in the ecosystem,” wrote Norvell. 

How hunters can help

The DWR requested that those visiting the Zion hunting unit stop in at check stations. To encourage participation, the DWR said eligible hunters can enter to win one of five gift cards.

To be able to enter to win a prize, big game hunters have to show the non-lead ammunition they used or provide proof they have removed all the remains of their harvested animals from the field.

The gift cards are worth $800 each and they are for outdoor equipment, according to a press release from the DWR. The Peregrine Foundation provided the gift cards. 

The DWR said check stations will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk. 

Check stations are in place at the following locations:

  • The intersection of Yellowjacket Road and Hancock Road.  
  • On SR-14 in Cedar Canyon, east of Cedar City. 

The DWR said both locations will be open on Oct. 11, 14-15, 21-24, and 28-29. 

Additionally, the DWR issues coupons for free or discounted ammunition prior to the beginning of hunting season. Hunters can get them when they obtain a big-game hunting permit for the Zion Unit.

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DWR, Peregrine Project ask hunters to help protect California condors