California condor flying at Pinnacles National Park (not the shot bird). Photo courtesy of Pinnacles National Park.
California condor flying at Pinnacles National Park (not the shot bird). Photo courtesy of Pinnacles National Park.

Information provided by Ventana Wildlife Society

In a strong commitment to protect one of California’s most endangered species, Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) has announced an increase in the reward money from $5,000 to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for last year’s shooting of a California Condor in San Benito County. Recognizing the importance of preserving this iconic species, VWS, with the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is determined to ensure that acts of poaching are not tolerated.

The California Condor, North America’s largest land bird, faces numerous challenges to its survival, with habitat loss and lead poisoning being among the most significant threats. While VWS acknowledges the proud traditions of hunting and ranching in the region, they firmly assert that poaching has no place in these traditions.

Since 1997, Ventana Wildlife Society, with valued support from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, has been at the forefront of the fight to save California Condors.  Since 2012, VWS has also been providing free non-lead ammunition to hunters and ranchers to reduce the devastating effects of lead poisoning due to the ingestion of spent ammunition found in carcasses of ground squirrels and other animals typically not collected by the shooter.  This initiative has not only helped reduce the threat of lead exposure to these magnificent birds but also fostered cooperation between conservationists and the local community.   

To further support the use of non-lead ammunition and encourage responsible hunting practices, Ventana Wildlife Society has launched a new website, rimfireroundup.com. This website is designed to help individuals find non-lead ammunition easily, promoting a safer environment for both wildlife and people.  Using non-lead ammunition is required by law in California and it also helps protect bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons and other animals. 

“The increase in the reward offered by Ventana Wildlife Society, with the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, underscores our commitment to the conservation of the California Condor and other wildlife,” said Kelly Sorenson, Executive Director of Ventana Wildlife Society. 

Any individual with information related to the recent shooting of a California Condor is urged to come forward and assist in this critical investigation. Please contact the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Sacramento at 916-569-8478, or email Special Agent Victoria Van Duzer at Victoria_Vanduzer@fws.gov.

For more information about the increased reward offered by Ventana Wildlife Society, please contact Kelly Sorenson at kellysorenson@ventanaws.org or call 831-800-7420.