GPS Satellite Tags Help California Condor Recovery Program




Park Ranger Alacia Welch discusses the California Condor Recovery Program in Pinnacles National Park, located in Central California, on Big Blend Radio.


In a continued effort to restore the iconic California condor population, the National Park Foundation and the Pinnacles National Park Foundation announced on March 26, 2018, the donation of much-needed GPS satellite tags to Pinnacles National Park, thanks to a generous equipment donation from Microwave Telemetry, Inc. This effort is part of the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. To date, this comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured national parks has raised nearly $500 million in private donations from individuals, foundations, and companies.


“Microwave Telemetry’s donation helps move the California Condor Recovery Program forward in a significant way,” said Katherine Chesson, vice president of grants and programs at the National Park Foundation. “Partnerships like this enable the national parks community to protect majestic wildlife.”

Due to a number of factors, including lead poisoning, the California condor was close to extinction in the 1980s, reaching a low of 22 individuals. Over the last several decades, conservationists and scientists have committed themselves to saving the condor from extinction and reintroducing birds to the wild. As of December 2017, there are 435 condors both in the wild and in captivity. While this is good news, condors are still endangered due to high mortality from lead poisoning.

“Our company was founded and exists on the premise that high-tech electronics can enable and facilitate conservation,” said Lucy Howey, an owner and Scientific Liaison at Microwave Telemetry. “As one of the few remaining organizations that designs and manufactures our devices entirely in the USA, it seems fitting that our company would team up with those aiming to protect one of our country’s most iconic and imperiled bird species.”

“Microwave Telemetry actually designed this specialized model transmitter for the near-extinct condor in the 1990s,” said Paul Howey, founder and president at Microwave Telemetry. “This natural partnership truly celebrates many years of collaborative innovation focused on the species recovery.”

Over thirty organizations and agencies have been committed to saving the species. In addition to Pinnacles National Park, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventana Wildlife Society, The World Center for Predatory Birds, San Diego Zoo and the Mexican government all manage sites from where condors reared in captivity are released into the wild. The collaborative nature of the California Condor Recovery Program is one of the keys to its success, along with public education and volunteers. At Pinnacles, close collaboration with the Pinnacles National Park Foundation has increased the number of volunteers monitoring condors at the park. The gift from Microwave Telemetry of GPS tags will bring great efficiencies to the park and its partners. The tags will help biologists locate condors quickly, and understand their movements, behavior, and health — all of which ultimately aid in their recovery.

“With continued threats to their recovery due to lead poisoning, monitoring condors is still a critical task for our biologists. The gift of GPS satellite tags brings great efficiency to the park’s condor program and can also help speed condor recovery through effective management,” said Rachel Wolstenholme, Pinnacles Condor Program Manager.

The Pinnacles National Park Foundation has contributed more than $25,000 towards the Pinnacles Condor Recovery program, supporting volunteers, GPS tracking, and the purchase of equipment.

“This gift from Microwave Telemetry significantly enhances efforts to restore the California condor on the central coast of California. We appreciate the assistance of the National Park Foundation to facilitate our work with Microwave Telemetry,” said Jennifer Westphal, Executive Director of the Pinnacles National Park Foundation.

Learn more about Pinnacles National Park at



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