In a widely celebrated conservation victory, the Interior Department today removed the brown pelican from the Endangered Species List. The bird was first listed in 1970 after it was nearly wiped out by the pesticide DDT. Since then, a DDT ban and conservation efforts from individuals all the way up to states have helped the species recover. Today, more than 600,000 brown pelicans are found across Florida and the Gulf and Pacific Coasts, as well as in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“After being hunted for its feathers, facing devastating effects from the pesticide DDT and suffering from widespread coastal habitat loss, the pelican has made a remarkable recovery,’ Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland said at a press conference in New Orleans to announce the delisting. “ We once again see healthy flocks of pelicans in the air over our shores.”
Even so, continued conservation efforts will be necessary. The birds still face some threats, particularly oil and sewage spills, and pollution, overfishing, and climate change are hurting the marine fisheries that they depend on for food.
"For many Californians, our magnificent coastline is part of our natural identity, and the Brown Pelican is a treasured part of that image," says Graham Chisholm, executive director of Audubon California. "That is all the more reason why we need to remain diligent about protecting this bird from the many threats that it still faces."
Click here to see a slide show of wading birds photographed by Rosalie Winard.