In the last few days our Northern California rehabilitation center, located in Fairfield, received another 25 brown pelicans from the Santa Cruz area. That makes a total of 137 pelicans this year in Northern California alone and 115 of those pelicans have come in since June 15th! Until recently they have been mostly young birds that are learning to fish and are feeding on large schools of anchovies and sardines that are moving along the California coastline. As of today, more than 30 of the birds that have come to our center are suffering from injuries due to fishing hooks and monofilament line entanglement.
Overview of the Current Crisis Situation
For those of you that don’t remember, in 2002 IBRRC received 200 injured pelicans from Santa Cruz within a month because large numbers of brown pelicans were feeding on anchovies under the Santa Cruz piers. Fisherman fishing from the piers can catch up to five small fish at a time by basically creating a long line system where each line has up to five leads with hooks on the ends of them. The lines are dropped from very high piers and are often pulled up with up to 5 wiggling fish on them. Pelicans see this as a free meal and grab them, becoming entangled. The fishermen get annoyed, cut the lines and then the pelicans are found on the wharf and local beaches with injuries and entanglements. This is happening right now!
In 2002 IBRRC worked with local government and California Fish & Game to temporarily close the Santa Cruz wharf to fishing until the bait fish moved out of the area. This tactic was successful and ended the fishing tackle entanglements. We are again asking the regulatory agencies to temporarily close these areas to fishing. This year the problem is much worse as three different piers are being used for fishing and literally thousands of brown pelicans are feeding on the fish. Two of the piers are now closed but one remains open to fishing. One fisherman complained to reporters that he is catching a pelican every 20 minutes and cutting the line.
Media report: ABC-TV: Pelicans getting fatally snared in Capitola
IBRRC as the Hub for west coast pelican rehabilitation
IBRRC has the largest facilities and most advanced program for pelican and sea bird rehabilitation along the west coast of the US. Each of our rehabilitation centers is equipped with a one hundred foot long pelican flight aviary. These aviaries are specifically built for pelicans and provide them flight rehabilitation. Each aviary can hold up to 75 birds at a time and both are in full use right now.
Your support is desperately needed
As I write this appeal there are 70 brown pelicans at our Northern California center, in Fairfield, receiving treatment for fishing tackle injuries and other problems and an equal amount at our Southern California facility in San Pedro. Each pelican eats up to 5 pounds of fish a day. The low estimate of a single pelican’s cost to rehabilitate is $20.00 per day. In truth, the cost is much more for those that require antibiotics and further care. I am asking for your financial support again to help us in this crisis situation.
We have set up many ways for our supporters to contribute. Donations in any amount you wish are always welcome. You may Adopt a Pelican or become a Pelican Partner. Becoming a Pelican Partner provides you with the opportunity to receive a private tour of one of our facilities and join our staff or volunteers at the release of the pelican that you have adopted and helped. I urge you to help us rehabilitate these pelicans. Share this information with friends and encourage their involvement. Help us: Adopt-a-Pelican or Donate
Thank you from all the staff and volunteers at IBRRC for your help.
International Bird Rescue Research Center, IBRRC