More than 180 starving and sick pelicans are found across SoCal, wildlife center says

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Saturday, May 11, 2024
Scores of starving and sick pelicans are found along OC coast
Scores of sick and starving pelicans have been found in coastal California communities in recent weeks and many others have died.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- More than 180 sick and starving pelicans have been found across Southern California in recent weeks and many others have died.

Lifeguards spotted a cluster of two dozen sick pelicans earlier this week on a pier in Newport Beach and called in wildlife experts to assist.

Debbie McGuire, executive director of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, said the birds are the latest group that they've tried to save after taking in more than 100 other pelicans that were anemic, dehydrated and weighing only half of what they should.

"They are starving to death and if we don't get them into care, they will die," McGuire said. "It really is a crisis."

The nonprofit has admitted 180 brown pelicans from Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, according to a news release.

"Pelican patients cost $45 per day; with 97 currently at the center (and dozens more expected to arrive), one can imagine the magnitude of our weekly operating cost for pelicans alone- not to mention our hundreds of other animals," the statement said. Donations can be made online.

It is not immediately clear what is sickening the birds. Some wildlife experts noted the pelicans are malnourished even though marine life abounds off the Pacific Coast.

The pelicans were described as emaciated, frail and hypothermic. A large percentage of them were "coming in with fishing gear entanglement and are requiring surgery to repair wounds," the Wildlife Care Center said.

"We are feeding 500 lbs. of fish daily to the pelicans, consisting of herring, smelt, anchovies, and small mackerel," Debbie McGuire, executive director of the center, said in a statement.

Bird Rescue, which runs two wildlife centers in Northern and Southern California, reported 110 sick pelicans in the past three weeks, many entangled in fishing line or hooks. A similar event occurred in 2022, the group said.

Wildlife organizations are focused on caring for the birds until they can be released back into the wild.