Santa Cruz Pelican Crisis
Appears Over for Now Groups pull together to find
solutions to help the birds
After rescuing almost 200 endangered brown pelicans
that were caught by fishing lines and hooks this summer,
Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz and International Bird
Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in Cordelia, California
have joined with other groups to try and find solutions
to this problem.
A new organization, Pelican Protectin Alliance, was
formed in Santa Cruz in a meeting of volunteer bird
rescuers, kayakers, people who fish from the wharf,
conservation managers, non profit community groups, and
wharf personnel. They met to address the issue of human/
pelican conflict over shared resources, and help mitigate
the impact on the birds. The Pelican Protection Alliance
will work with city, state and federal officials to
propose solutions to the problem of pelicans being
hooked, especially during peak anchovy runs.
A major educational campaign is the group's main
focus, because many people were not aware that the
California Brown Pelican is an endangered bird, protected
by both Federal and State laws. Permanent signs will be
developed with the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation
Department, who manages fishing on the pier. Save Our
Shores will create an educational kiosk on the wharf,
which will include the natural history of the brown
pelican and outline the laws protecting these majestic
birds. The Ocean Conservancy will research local, state
and federal law and craft a unified policy the group will
propose for the City of Santa Cruz.
International Bird Rescue will be organizing an
educational campaign about monofilament line recycling,
and setting up containers on the wharf in order that
lines and hooks are disposed of responsibly. Pelican
Network will recruit docents for informing the public at
the Wharf about the unique history of California Brown
Pelicans, and how to respect wildlife.
This summer, a total of 171 brown pelicans were
rescued from the Santa Cruz area alone, with 14 deaths,
28 having to be euthanized due to injuries beyond
treatment and 80 successfully rehabilitated for release.
International Bird Rescue, the main organization treating
the birds, still has 49 pelicans undergoing
rehabilitation at their center.
Pelican Protection Alliance will have it's own web
page through Pelican Network,
<http://www.pelicannetwork.net>, where the public
and other organizations interested in helping, can go for
information and updates. Phone numbers for the main
organizations protecting the birds are: Native Animal
Rescue, 831-462-0726; IBRRC, 707-207-0380 and the Ocean
The total cost for caring for the birds is estimated
at $50,000. Anyone wishing to make a donation can find
pertinent information on the organization websites.
The California Brown Pelican is an endangered species.
In the 1960s this classic coastal bird's population was
terribly decimated by the wide spread use of agricultural
pesticides. In the 1970s they were on the brink of
extinction. Since the banning of DDT, and with the
federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, the
pelican has made a dramatic comeback. But, the
extraordinarily high kill rates by fishing hooks and
lines, is a horrible irony after society realized its
earlier errors with this bird, and has done so much to