Starting in the 1980s, there was a substantial increase in the number of letters to the editor published in the Los Angeles Times that concerned the California condor.
Here are excerpts from letters that appeared in the early 1980s. These provide insight on the public’s thinking about the California condor at the time (including some misinformation and misunderstandings).
The 20 February 1982 Los Angeles Times included this letter from Jim Alexander concerning the newspaper’s coverage of college basketball:
Can’t Pepperdine get no respect?… They are the hottest team on the West Coast but they still can’t do better than page five… If Pepperdine were an animal it would be the American bison or the California condor…
I. A. Abkin responded, on 16 March 1982, to a previously-published article:
That dismaying item … about the two condors squabbling and fighting until they broke their precious egg was a painful reminder that we, the human species, are heading for extinction for the same reasons!
Ornithologist Lloyd Kiff’s letter, under the heading “Saving Condor from Extinction” appeared on 9 August 1982:
I appreciate your continuing editorial support … for attempts to save the California Condor from extinction by management techniques, especially the initiation of a captive propagation program.
I would still like to see at least one adult condor taken for captive breeding – such a bird should be speedily delivered to the ever-patient Topa Topa, the most famous resident of the Los Angeles Zoo!
But Laura Williams offered a different view in a letter titled “Condor Fuss” on 21 October 1982:
Why are we so obsessed with bringing back the condor in the United States …, willing to spend millions on the program?
After all, there are plenty of them in South America so there is no danger of their becoming extinct.
On 2 November 1982, 2 writers responded to Williams. First, Bruce Tennant:
Laura Williams’ letter … is both insensitive and without logic.
She should be advised that the South American species is not the same as our local variety.
Then, Egon Russell:
They are … on the edge of total extinction caused by us primarily and deserve to be interfered with only once more, this time in a last ditch constructive effort to try to save them.
A humorous letter by Tom M. Andres was published on 12 May 1984:
Nine predictions as to what the Los Angeles Times will be like by the year 2001:
8 – Continuing its crusading zeal, all Times profits will go to preserving the California condor, which by then will outnumber the common housefly, and will be attacking farm animals and small private planes.
On 24 August 1985, 2 letters were published under the heading “Uncontaminated Sources of Food Vital to Condor”. First, Clarann Levakis:
The 14,000-acre Hudson Ranch … is the primary feeding area for the remaining wild condors … Congress has already appropriated funds to purchase the ranch …
Unfortunately, inaction on the part of the Reagan Administration has already delayed acquisition of the ranch …
Anyone who believes that the condor is worthy of our efforts to secure its survival should insist that Interior Secretary Hodel act now to approve the Hudson Ranch purchase, while there are still wild condors to be saved.
Then William Jones:
With the population of magnificent California condors mysteriously declining so rapidly, one wonders how many developers are “champing at the bit” to get their hands on all that sanctuary land. After all, there’s more money in condos than condors.
To explore further into the past, see the post Letters to the editor of the Los Angeles Times: 1934-1981. Also see Letters to the editors of the New York Times & Washington Post.