Two young California condors were killed in the Dolan Fire in central California, the Ventana Wildlife Society announced today.
They were condors No. 1022 and No. 1029.
“My heart is broken because I have dedicated my life to these birds for more than 20 years,” said Joe Burnett, VWS Condor Program Manager. “It is a tragedy to lose something, but we will rise from the ashes and rebuild the sanctuary of the condor and continue our mission to recover this species.”
As we reported at the end of August, the fire destroyed Ventana’s condor sanctuary. The non-profit organization plans to raise $ 500,000 for rebuilding.
Chicks rescued in the national park
Three other condor chicks survived the fire, including “Iniko”. Iniko was named by the public as viewers around the world watched the chick and its parents on a live streaming camera provided by explore.org.
Another chick, # 1033, was rescued a few days before the fire over her nest by a team of biologists from Pinnacles National Park and the Ventana Wildlife Society. See photos of the rescue on Facebook. Biologists took the four-month-old chick, a female, to the Los Angeles Zoo, where she will spend the next year until she is ready to be released back into the wild and reunited with her herd.
“We could see the fire was burning towards 1033’s nest and offered to save them while there was still a chance,” said Alacia Welch, acting condor program manager at Pinnacles. “Seeing the fire burning over their nest just days later made me really glad we took action when we did.”
Nine free-flying adult condors, including “Kingpin” # 167, Iniko’s father, are missing in the Big Sur sanctuary three weeks after the fire. The other missing birds are “Survivor” # 375, “Electra” # 678, “Boreas” # 773, “Arthur” # 789, “Tonks” # 875, a condor from Pinnacles Flock # 448 and two wild-reared birds # 9001 and # 9003. Condor # 448 is the father of the perished chick # 1022.
Birds raised in captivity are to be released
“The California Condor Recovery Program has faced setbacks in the past, but we will continue to work with our dedicated partners, the Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles National Park, to achieve our ultimate goal of restoring the California Condor to the wild “said Steve Kirkland, condor field coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “While the loss of these wild birds is daunting, we will release nine more captive-bred birds later this fall and we are confident that the remaining wild chicks will add to the overall California condor population.”
As the condor population continues to grow and its range continues to expand, catastrophic fire events like this one are less likely to have a significant impact on their recovery.
Thanks to the continued efforts of the partnership with the Condor Recovery Program, despite the loss at the Big Sur Condor Sanctuary, new condors are being released that are being held in captivity. A cohort of nine condors will be brought to central California this month, and seven of them will be released in San Simeon, California and the other two in Pinnacles National Park.
“We are so grateful to have such supportive partners so that the important work we are doing can be resumed as soon as possible in the rebuilding,” said Kelly Sorenson, Executive Director of VWS.
This video shows the consequences of the fire in Big Sur:
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