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Influx of sick pelicans along SoCal coast

January 5, 2009 6:52:43 PM PST
Large numbers of sick, injured and starving brown pelicans have turned up along the Southern California coast. The International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro rescued 40 birds in December and another 25 birds since Jan. 1. Workers say the ailing pelicans are being found in unusual places.

"We're seeing them come in thin and little bit disoriented, a lot of times very cold," said Erica Lander from the IBRRC. "So we're taking them in and caring for them."

In 2008, the bird sanctuary took in over 300 sick pelicans, about 100 more than they had in 2007. There was a "baby boom" of pelicans last fall, which increased their patient load. But experts are unsure why more birds are getting sick now.

Workers say it costs between $500 and $1,000 to rehabilitate a sick pelican.

"It gets very costly, especially when we have so many coming in at one time," said Lander.

As a non-profit organization, funds are running thin for the IBRRC. It's now turning to the public to help the endangered brown pelicans. Bird lovers can adopt a pelican for $200 or become a pelican partner for $500. The IBRRC also has a classroom partnership for $300, where a whole class can raise the money to sponsor a pelican.

For nearly 40 years brown pelicans have been endangered species. The number of birds turning up shows the population is improving and workers want to make sure they survive.

Learn more about the IBRRC's adopt-a-pelican program


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