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VERMILION CLIFFS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Ariz. -- Officials are inviting the public to view the release of California condors at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona.

The release is set for 11 a.m. Saturday. The public may observe from a nearby viewing area. Experts also will be available to answer questions.

Saturday's event will be the 18th annual public release of condors in Arizona since the species recovery program began in 1996.

As of June 30, officials said there were 71 condors in the wild in northern Arizona and southern Utah. There are 431 of the endangered California condors worldwide, with more than half of them in Arizona, Utah, California and Mexico.

Their population had dwindled to just 22 in the 1980s, which is when the program began to save the species from extinction.

The program is a cooperative effort by federal, state and private partners.

Associated Press,

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