1996 32¢ California Condor
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
At one time the condor could be found as far east as Florida, but by the 1940s it could only be found in the mountains of southern California’s Los Padres National Forest. Condors require vast areas of open, hilly country, much of which had been destroyed by urban development. Contaminated food sources posed another major threat. Condors feed solely on carrion – the remains of dead animals. Poisoned carcasses set out by ranchers to kill coyotes, and lead ingested from bullet-ridden game left by hunters, had further reduced the population.
In 1985 the mysterious disappearance of six of the remaining 15 birds led to the establishment of a controversial captive-breeding program. Two years later, the last wild California condor was taken into captivity. At the time the species numbered only 27.
In 1992 the first captive pair was freed in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Los Padres National Park. The female survived being shot, but her male partner was found poisoned nine months after the release. Additional condors have been released, and although the program shows signs of success, scientists are still doubtful as to the future of the condor. For as the birds fly past the limits of the sanctuary, they will face the same threats which once brought them to the verge of extinction.