In the long list of things I write about that mankind has done wrong, it’s nice to talk about something we’ve done right.
Enter the California Condor, the largest bird in North America from the vulture family. In 1982 there were only 22 of these birds left in the world and the powers that be decided to make a controversial decision to capture all remaining condors to provide a captive breeding program in order to keep them from going completely extinct. Thirty plus years later the California Condor community has hatched their 1000th chick, born in the wilds of Utah.
Mama is Condor 409; (tag #9) she was hatched in captivity in 2006 at the San Diego Zoo. Papa is Condor 523; (tag # J3) he was hatched in 2009 at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, ID. Both birds were released in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, AZ, Mama in 2008 and Papa in 2016. This is Mama’s second mate, her first died of lead poisoning in 2016. California Condors have one baby every two years. Not exactly a prolific species, but with human intervention they have beaten the odds for now.
There are currently 500 California Condors in existence today. Half of those are happily soaring high in the thermals above Mother Earth, living wilds in Utah, Arizona, California and Northern Mexico.
The skies were almost empty of Condors. It took a gaggle of agencies, biologists, citizens and a roll of the dice to get a program together for a bird that is not known for being pretty, but beautiful enough for some people to care about what happens to them.
No one can predict what future awaits 1000th chick, but he or she will be free to make their bid to either bloom or fade in the wild where they belong thanks to hundreds of dedicated humans. We caused the mass extinction and we also stalled it. We did this right.