California Condors


The California condor population was reduced to 22 birds by 1982, with the last wild condor brought into captivity in 1987. Captive breeding efforts have been highly successful since 1988 with reintroduction of condors to the wild beginning in 1992. Although there are numerous challenges for condor recovery, exposure to toxic levels of lead has been a major long-term threat to condor persistence.

The Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center is coordinating a partnership between the University of California, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and Ventana Wildlife Society to investigate the behavioral and environmental factors influencing ongoing lead exposure in the condor population and evaluate the impact of recent lead ammunition regulation in condor range.

Studies will also evaluate the health effects of ongoing lead exposure in condors by assessing impacts on survival and population health. Findings from this work will directly inform condor management on a day-to-day basis and are critical to inform long term science-based management of this species.

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