Mystery surrounds influx of sick, dead brown pelicans at California wildlife centers

·2 min read
International Bird Rescue

A “crisis” across California has led to a influx of sick and dying brown pelicans, officials said.

Wildlife centers in the state have been seeing a large increase of brown pelicans that are “severely emaciated, weak and hypothermic,” the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network said.

Additionally, the wildlife center has received numerous reports of dead pelicans across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The cause of the illness is unknown, the wildlife center said, but several organizations are researching what could be happening to the birds.

About 30% of the birds that were taken in at the Santa Barbara center were dead upon arrival, or died while there.

The birds have been found, sick, injured or dead, in many different places around California — from roadways to fresh water pools to resident’s backyards, the center detailed.

The crisis has stretched to Los Angeles, too.

According to a wildlife center in Los Angeles, this is “the largest influx of Brown Pelicans seen at our centers since 2012.”

“We’re seeing a mix of fledglings, second-year birds, and mature adults, which makes me think it could be a food supply issue rather than a simple influx of starving fledglings,” Dr. Rebecca Duerr, Bird Rescue’s Director of Research and Veterinary Science, said in a news release from the Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

Because these wildlife centers are being inundated with the sick, starving birds, they are asking for donations to help feed and care for them.

“We are now seeing Northern California pelicans in distress, we believe this is a California-wide issue,” the LA wildlife center said.

Brown pelicans were previously on the endangered species list in 1970, and were removed from the list in 2009.

Centers urge those who find a sick, injured or distressed pelican to contact their local wildlife or animal control center.

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