With a heavy heart, I write this post about the tragic, untimely death of condor biologist Mike Tyner.
While out checking on a recently released condor in Big Sur, Calif. Mike was fatally struck by a large tree during a severe windstorm on November 30, 2011.
But he was no stranger to putting his life on the line to help save these rare, magnificent birds. In 2008, he joined the rescue team responsible for saving eight condors from the Basin Complex Wildfire, which razed two condor facilities as it raged across Big Sur.
Mike was unassuming, humble and hard working, says Ventana Wildlife Society’s executive director, Kelly Sorenson. “He was truly an exceptional individual. This loss is catastrophic, heartbreaking and painful. As we mourn the passing of a remarkable friend, our hearts go out to his family. Mike will be greatly missed.”
Mike worked for the Ventana Wildlife Society, an organization solely dedicated to monitoring Big Sur’s flock of wild condors. And for several years, Defenders partnered with Ventana, helping to support Mike’s research.
Thanks to Mike, the team was able to locate numerous nests in Big Sur. And twice each year, he led an effort to recapture every condor in the flock to check their blood for lead poisoning—the leading cause of death among endangered condors—helping to ensure that sick condors received urgent, lifesaving medical care.
Although Mike is no longer with us, his dedication and research will be with us every day. His work has left a lasting mark on condor conservation efforts.
Our partners at Ventana Wildlife Society have helped to bring the California condor back from the brink of extinction—thanks, in part, to Mike’s dedication.
May his spirit soar with the condors.