SAN FRANCISCO — The Yurok name for the bird that soared closest to the creator and could deliver the people’s prayers is “prey-go-neesh.”
The English name for the Pleistocene-era throwback with the 91/2-foot wingspan is California condor, and by 1982 there were just 22 left.
Now, California’s largest tribe has come closer to reuniting with the raptor whose feathers grace its sacred regalia, while working to revive the species.
An agreement signed by the tribe last month with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Ventana Wildlife Society begins a process that could make Yurok ancestral land California’s northernmost condor release site.
The deal resulted from the tribe’s extensive evaluation of habitat and likely food supply — carcasses of marine mammals, downed livestock and bullet-scarred game left behind by hunters.
“This is the culmination of five years of work … but our journey is continuing,” said wildlife biologist Chris West, who directs the condor program for the Yurok tribe.