Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge


Two California condors flying about the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge next to the Los Padres National Forest. Photo by Scott Flaherty, USFWS.

Located at the nexus of two mountain ranges and covering much of the historic condor range, this 14,097-acre wildlife refuge  is a hub for California condor activity and research opportunities.  The area has long been a site for condor restoration efforts, and was the site of the last wild condor’s capture in 1987.  The refuge now protects habitat within an important east/west running mountain range and provides movement corridors for populations of native ungulates, raptors, and other wildlife.

While much of the land was also historic ranchland, the Service has continued to work with willing landowners on various land exchanges to consolidate refuge lands with mutual management benefits (e.g., exchanging outlying refuge lands for private in-holdings within the approved acquisition boundary).

The refuge preserves a multitude of habitat types, including California naturalized annual and perennial grassland, central and south coastal seral scrub, california juniper woodland, mixed saltbush scrub, scrub oak woodland, and riparian woodland.

Bitter Creek is home to tule elk. Photo by Bill Bouton.

The California condor is one of nine federally-listed endangered species that can be found within the borders of the refuge.  Other species include the San Joaquin kit fox, the giant kangaroo rat, and the California red-legged frog.  And, though not endangered, the refuge supports herds of tule elk that were reintroduced to the area at the nearby Wind Wolves Preserve in 1998 and 2005!

To learn more about this National Wildlife Refuge, click here!