Ventana Wildlife Society to hold release of "condor rookie cohort" this weekend
The California condor narrowly avoided extinction in the 1980’s, thanks in large part to activists, organizations and agencies on the Central Coast. There are now more than 500 living California condors in both captivity and the wild, compared to the all-time low of only 22 of the birds in 1982.
Now, local nonprofit Ventana Wildlife Society plans to hold a release of some young condors this Saturday in San Simeon.
Ventana Wildlife Society has been a crucial player in the California condors’ restoration,. The organization operates a sanctuary in Big Sur for the birds, as well as an outdoor recreation and education center for people.
The condor rookie cohort, as the nonprofit calls it, hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo but now they’re part of the Central California flock.
Ventana hosts monthly Condor Zoom-Chats updating the public on their ongoing efforts to restore the species’, sometimes they introduce new chicks — with their picture, birthday and name.
At October’s Condor Zoom-Chat, Executive Director Kelly Sorenson introduced Male Condor 1085, aka “Wild Bill,” named after one of Ventana’s late donors.
“Wild Bill was the name of a donor of ours, who unfortunately passed away at the end of 2021, and left a bequest to support California condor recovery," Sorenson said.
Joe Burnett, part of Ventana’s “Condor Crew,” said releasing the condors from the organization’s care is a bit like a parent sending their kids off to college.
"That's one of the best comparisons. It’s bittersweet — you know they're nice and protected, but they've got to spread those wings," he said.
Despite conservation efforts from organizations like Ventana Wildlife Society, condors are still vulnerable to their main threat: lead bullets – which almost led them to extinction. This kind of ammunition is now banned for hunting use in California, but is still finding its way into the birds’ bellies, which often kills them.
Still, Ventana continues to help breed, raise and release new condors, along with trying to educate hunters and others who may use lead bullets to use different ammunition.
Anyone can sign up to watch the condor release this Saturday at 9:30am via Zoom at ventanaws.org. The next Condor Zoom-chat is November 17.