This is the latest report on brown pelicans from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Aug. 18, 2010): “State and federal wildlife teams have captured alive 1,933 visibly oiled birds. Of those, 846 have been rehabilitated and released. In addition, 4,373 visibly oiled have been collected dead.”
That is so disheartening. Two-thirds of the pelicans that have been discovered are dead. Of the third still living, less than half have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
Of the nearly 6,400 birds discovered with oil (and there’s no telling how many dead, sick or injured pelicans haven’t been found), little more than an eighth have been returned to the wild. Hopefully not to get back into the same situation.
The oil spill may very well be contained. The leak may be pretty much sealed. But that doesn’t matter all too much for the brown pelican, which less than a year ago was removed from the endangered species list.
The documented number of fatalities and injuries the pelicans have sustained only show how fragile our Gulf Coast wildlife populations are.
It took decades for their population to recover from near-extinction. I hope that they can survive this latest assault.
(Top photo: JEFFERSON PARISH, La. – Jeff Phillips, Environmental Contaminants Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rescues a Brown Pelican from the Barataria Bay in Grand Isle, La., June 4, 2010. State and federal wildlife services pulled approximately 60 Brown Pelicans, in the last two days, covered in oil from the Barataria Bay area. www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/ U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ann Marie Gorden.)
(Bottom photo: Brown pelican flying, with containment boom in background at Breton NWR, Photo by Tom MacKenzie, USFWS. May 4, 2010.)