Hiker spots rare ‘critically endangered’ bird at Zion National Park, photos show

·2 min read
Screengrab of Utah DNR on Twitter

Reaching the top of one of the most dangerous hikes in the country was only part of the treat waiting for one hiker at Zion National Park.

Shane Wayment made it to the top of Angels Landing, a grueling and strenuous 5.4-mile hike that has steep drop offs and narrow ridges more than 1,000 feet up.

Sitting at the top of the iconic red rock trail was a huge, critically endangered bird. A California condor was overlooking the national park.

“It’s not every day you get to see a critically endangered species up close in the wild,” the Utah Department of Natural Resources said Jan. 18 on Twitter. “That’s exactly what happened.”

The bird was just born last spring, wildlife officials said.

California condors are often spotted perched on Angels Landing, according to the National Park Service. There are about 70 condors in Arizona and Utah.

“Zion rests in the middle of this realm,” the National Park Service said. “Here, among canyons, plateaus, and miles of sky, the bird’s rare presence has never been taken for granted.”

The bird used to fly over most of the country, but its population was depleted to only 22 birds by 1982, park officials said.

The remaining condors were captured in the ’80s and have slowly been released in California, Baja California and northern Arizona since.

“Condors are now breeding successfully in the wild,” the National Park Service said. ”The world population count inches up and down at around 400, approximately half of which are flying free in the wild.”

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