"The condor features very prominently in our stories and our dances, particularly the White Deerskin Dance," Tiana Williams, a Yurok wildlife technician, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The lack of having condors here definitely inhibits us."
Condors, the largest birds in North America, were once plentiful along the Pacific Coast. They disappeared from Northern California 100 years ago and the global population is only 384, with less than half living in the wild.
The Yuroks and the Oregon Zoo are using money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study other scavengers like ravens and vultures to determine where condors could be introduced near Yurok tribal land. The birds are being tested for poisons like lead and mercury.
Biologists are also considering other hazards like power lines.
Chris West, a biologist working with the tribe, says he is optimistic.
"We've got a mountainous landscape that we know condors would like and an abundance of food," Williams said. "We've got a huge bear population up here, a large elk population and a strong sea lion population."