Pelicans sick, starving along the coast and the reason is unknown

The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach has received 42 sick pelicans.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The staff at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center are struggling caring for 42 sick pelicans. The center was notified the first week of May about sick pelicans from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

"Weak, emaciated, lethargic brown pelicans showing up on the coastline all throughout this area and they started to be brought into all of the wildlife rehab centers," said Elizabeth Wood, a wildlife veterinarian.

Biologists are performing tests to figure out why these birds are getting sick. So far, there has not been a definite reason, but the pelicans are primarily starving themselves.

"We're in one of our outdoor enclosures now. Basically, after the birds are triaged and stabilized in our indoor enclosures, they're coming out here to work on waterproofing their feathers and to put on more weight," Wood said.

Now, the pelicans are eating a lot of fish and the good news is most of the birds are responding well to medicine and food.

Wood says there's an active investigation going on by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, local rehabilitators and other biologists and pathologists.

Wood says caring for all of these birds is not cheap. Each pelican costs about $45 a day because of all the fish and medicine they need.

"This is also happening right in the height of baby season for us here at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, so we already have many, many hundreds of animals in care as this is our busiest time of year already and so it's a very large intake for us to manage on top of that," Wood said.

Wood says what they need most right now are donations to keep up with the cost of taking care of the birds.

If you're interested in donating you can go to their website.

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