ventana wildlife society - kelly sorenson

President Dick Bauer introduced his son-in-law, Kelley Sorenson, who is the executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society. He said that Kelly and his daughter got married in 2003 and now have two children. Kelly went to the University of Virginia and earned a degree in Wildlife Management. He initially was interested in the bald eagle, got a further degree in Product Management and his present job as Exec. Dir.
Kelly said that the Ventana Wildlife Society has been focused on Condor recovery back from the brink of extinction in 1982. They developed a non-profit organization which is 95% supported by private sources and focused in the Big Sur area.
The endeavor costs $400,000 per year and involves:
  • A strategy to release condors to the wild
  • Effective strategy for release
  • Monitor them
  • Resolve problems
  • Determine reproductive success.
Condors live over 50 years, are social and gregarious, they lay only one egg (size of a goose egg) and have a 54 day incubation period and then take 6 months of care to be on their own.  The Ventana Wildlife Society had their 1st release in 2006. They kept the birds in Big Sur and let them loose on the coastline and also in the mountainous Pinnicles area. They used a special “fly pen” and trained them in near outdoor environments. They attached radio transmitters, one was Standard FM and the other GPS.
They are on their 2nd release right now. The condor population was near extinction at a little over 20 pairs in 1982. It was determined that the cause of the decline was lead poisoning from bullets and buck shot from hunters who killed wild game such as squirrels, deer and the condors ate their remains.  It was estimated that 80% died from lead poisoning. Now the Ventana Society has distributed copper bullets to hunters and it is having a positive effect.
As of 2016, there are 270 condors in the wild and 170 are captive. Kelly says that the goal is for the condors to achieve a self-sustaining population. The future looks bright. Kelly expressed the opinion that human kind and wild creatures can co-exist and thrive.
Ventana Wildlife Society
President Bauer offered a book to be donated in Kelley’s honor to the Carmichael Library.
Speaker Kelly Sorenson, President Dick Bauer, Guest Bill Hutto