Condor 236

With its well maintained trails many vantage points, Pinnacles National Park is probably the region's best spot for viewing condors. 

Condors 236 and 340 have found their spot. 

The Ventana Wildlife Society, which has been releasing condors into the wild from its captive breeding program since 1997, announced March 21 that biologists discovered the years first California condor nest in the rock formations at Pinnacles National Park.

Biologists have since found five more nests, all west of Highway 101. 

Condor 236, a female also known as "Tiny," was released in Big Sur in 2002. 

Condor 340, a male also known as "Kun-Wac-Shun" (which means Thunder and Lightning in the Wasco-Wishram language), was raised at the Oregon Zoo and released in Pinnacles in 2005.

His previous mate died of lead poisoning in 2014, which continues to be biggest hindrance to the recovery of the endangered birds. Before the release programs began in California and elsewhere, condors became extinct in the wild in 1987 after biologists captured all the remaining birds.

Condors can inadvertently ingest lead when feeding on animals shot with lead bullets and then left out in the wild. Hunting with lead bullets in the area has been illegal since 2008, but the practice continues to persist.

Pinnacles National Park also has a condor release program that began in 2003 (before it attained National Park status), and along with VWS, has been instrumental in their continuing recovery in Central California.

"Shooters who have switched to non-lead ammunition have made an invaluable contribution to the health of all scavenging wildlife," says VWS Executive Director Kelly Sorenson in a statement.

VWS provides lead-free bullets to hunters and ranchers for free, and since 2012, have given out more than $100,000 in free ammunition.

According to the statement, the total condor population has reached 435 birds. According to the VWS website, 70 live in Central California. 

Condors are North America's largest flying bird, and their wingspan can reach 10 feet. 

To see them in action, check out the VWS condor cam.

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