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Why Are So Many Pelicans Up And Down The California Coast Starving?

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HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBS) — Stories about the young, thin and carefree starving themselves in California are not unusual.

But this isn’t a story about Hollywood starlets.

It’s a story about a different kind of wildlife: Pelicans.

For some inexplicable reason, pelicans — mostly young birds — up and down the coast, from Orange County to the Bay Area, are starving. And they’re not doing it intentionally. The past few weeks, folks have been pouring into rescue centers with birds on the brink of death.

Officials at the Wetlands and Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach say the young birds are having trouble learning how to catch enough fish to survive.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Cristy Fajardo spoke to Ashlee Rowland of the Wildlife Center to find out what is causing this alarming problem. Eleven more birds arrived today. Some of them so emaciated they need tubes to be fed.

More than 25 birds were taken there this week alone — 120 in the last month. More than 100 taken to a rescue center near the San Francisco Bay.

Officials are looking at any number of factors, reports Fajardo. Man is often the culprit. Some of the birds have turned up with fishing hooks in their beaks.

The fight for the fish between man and bird has also intensified.

An unusually large number of newborns is adding to the problem. They’re too young to know how to fish correctly. “It could be the population booming. Or the lack of resources. There not being enough fish.”

The birds are clearly at risk. Says Rowland, “If they aren’t brought here, they’d starve to death or become prey for something else.”

Authorities planned to fatten the birds up and then release them back into the wild. Two were, in fact, released today.

Of course, all this fattening up requires some donations. Fajardo says the Wetlands and Wildlife Center is spending a lot on fish to feed the birds.

To help donate, click on this link.

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