During the late 1980s, California condors were struggling to survive in the wild. As a result, all the birds were brought into captivity. On the positive side, the captive breeding program was having success.
Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that the California condor was the subject of discussion in the opinion pages of California’s most-prominent newspaper. Here are excerpts from some of these letters.
In the 13 January 1986 edition of the Los Angeles Times, R. C. Leyland wrote:
… California condors are not receiving the protection they require in their natural habitat from shooting and poisons. The tragedy of yet one more bird suffering from lead poisoning … could have been avoided.
On 19 January 1986, Terril Downey wrote:
Perhaps the fate of the condor will teach us that the time to work feverishly to prevent extinction is not when the population become[s] drastically reduced. And the way to do so does not depend upon manipulation of the animals themselves, but on the preservation of the delicate relationship between animals and the environment developed through eons of evolution. The only way this can be done is by protecting our wild lands and preventing human encroachment – otherwise all species, including our own, will evolve to an artificial and prematuure extinction.
Sometimes, the case of the California condor was raised to make a point about another issue. From 15 February 1987, here is Dan Pearson’s protest against a proposal to allow mountain lion hunting:
In an age when so many people are trying to salvage what we can of our fragile wilderness, as in the case of the California condors, how can the actions of these so-called sportsmen be condoned?
In the 17 May 1987 issue, scientist Oliver A. Ryder reacted to the capture of the last wild condor:
It is a poignant moment when the last individual of a species is removed from its wild habitat. This sense of sadness and loss can only be mitigated by the success of the intensive effort at captive breeding that now offers the only real hope for preventing the loss of the species.
Ralph S. Littrell wrote on 17 February 1988 in response to those opposing the use of animals for medical research:
… if our concerned friends want to help the health of animal life, why aren’t they involved in the battle for survival of thousands of endangered species of mammals, birds, and marine life … such as the California Condor, … , etc.?
From 15 May 1988, here are 2 reactions to the hatching – in captivity – of a condor. First from Sarita Merker:
I think it’s wonderful that a baby condor was born in captivity, but not to the tune of $20 million … Our universe is in a constant state of change. Why do we want, or need to prevent every animal, flower, etc. from becoming extinct?
Then from Larry Rhine:
The baby condor will be known as Moloko. But the tiny celebrity deserves a nickname and I suggest “Minium”. So here’s long life to you, your tiniest, Condor Minium.
On 24 May 1988, Amy Litton’s letter was published:
In response to the letter by Sarita Merker [above] …: That humanity wiped out or misused much of the condor’s habitat is indisputable. That humanity can strive to undo thie wrong, thereby learning much in the process, seems cheap at any price.
Lila Brooks connected California condors to other rare animals in a letter dated 20 April 1989:
… trophy hunters … have eliminated the wolves, jaguars and grizzly bears in California and are responsible for the demise of the California condor. Now they are determined to rid the California wilderness of the last remaining major predator, the cougar.
For more letters to the editor, continue with the post Letters to the editor of the Los Angeles Times: early 1980s.