BOISE -- Could Hells Canyon be a heavenly habitat to reintroduce endangered California Condors? The Nez Perce Tribe will be working to answer that question.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently awarded a $200,000 grant to the Nez Perce Tribe to assess whether Hells Canyon and other canyons in the region would make a good condor habitat.
The tribe's wildlife program project leader says scientists will look for good nesting spots and whether there will be a good food supply for the large scavengers.
The two-year project will start this summer.
The World Center for Birds of Prey is not involved in the project, but leaders at the center south of Boise are excited about the possibilities.
"I think that it's absolutely true that they were in this region," said Condor Propagation Specialist Marti Jenkins with the World Center for Birds of Prey. "It makes sense, you know, condors were seen in large numbers along the Columbia River and in the Columbia River Gorge area, and the Snake River being the largest tributary to the Columbia it just makes sense that they would have followed those fish sources when the salmon used to run all the way up through the Snake up into this region."
The center breeds condors to release into the southwestern U.S. and Baja, Mexico.
Jenkins says there are just under 500 condors in the wild. At their lowest point in 1982 only 22 of the birds remained in the wild.
On "Viewpoint" this Sunday morning at 6:30, we'll look more closely at what reintroducing condors into Hells Canyon could mean, plus what's being done at the World Center for Birds of Prey to help this endangered bird rebound.
Also on "Viewpoint," a conversation with the new director of the Idaho Department of Commerce. Megan Ronk took over as director in January. She talks about the priorities and programs at the department and the challenges they face in recruiting new businesses to the state.