Protect the California Brown Pelican
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The biggest threat to Brown Pelicans was the pesticide DDT. Brown Pelicans were listed as endangered in 1970. DDT was banned in 1972. Brown pelicans have recovered enough to be removed from the endangered species list. But there still are other threats.
Pelicans depend on anchovies and sardines. These have declined due to over-fishing. The number of chicks born each year also varies depending climate changes. We are working to understand how climate change will affect them.
Pelicans are also threatened by the oil spills, entanglement with hooks and fishing line, and disease outbreaks from overcrowding. Status and conservation
Since 1988, the brown pelican has been rated as least concern on the IUCN Red List of Endangered species. This was on the basis of its large range—greater than 20,000 km2 (7700 mi2)—and an increasing population trend. The population size is also well beyond the threshold for vulnerable species. The nominate race population is thought to be at least 290,000 in West Indies alone. It was listed under the United States Endangered Species Act from 1970 to 2009 as, in the early 1970s, pesticides like dieldrin and DDT threatened its future in southeastern United States and California. A research group from the University of Tampa headed by Dr. Ralph Schreiber conducted research in Tampa Bay, in the St Petersburg city of Florida, and found that DDT caused the pelican eggshells to be too thin and incapable of supporting the embryo to maturity. As a result of this research, DDT use was banned in Florida followed by the rest of the United States, in 1972. This was because the brown pelican suffered reproductive failures and population decline due to the pollutants. Since then, the brown pelican population has increased rapidly. Current estimates place its global population at 650,000 individuals. According to BirdLife International, its population has grown by about 68% per decade over a period of 40 years in North America, and this trend appears to be continuing. In the early twentieth century, hunting was a major death cause of the brown pelican, and people still hunt adults and collect eggs on the Caribbean coasts, in Latin American, and occasionally in the United States, even though it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It is still listed as endangered in the Pacific Coast region of its range and in southern and central United States. Although the U. S. Gulf Coast populations in Texas and Louisiana are still listed as endangered, they were recently estimated at nearly 12,000 breeding pairs. The brown pelican became extinct in 1963 in Louisiana.From 1968 to 1980, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ reintroduction program re-established the brown pelican in Louisiana, and improved reproduction and natural recolonization restored the population numbers in Texas and California. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt set aside Pelican Island, now known as Pelican Island National Wildlife Refugee, to solely protect the brown pelican from hunters.
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