Wildlife Students Help With Pelican Rescue

Humboldt State University wildlife students and staff are among the volunteers assisting with the care of waste-contaminated Brown Pelicans at the Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in Arcata.

The center has admitted more than 100 juvenile Brown Pelicans in recent days. Some 95% are suffering from fish waste contamination, whose grease is often lethal to the species. Contamination results in long, slow starvation.

The nonprofit Bird Ally X (BAX), the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center (HWCC) and HSU volunteers are building temporary structures to provide emergency care for the young, ailing Pelicans. The recently fledged birds are being looked after at care units up and down the coast, from Crescent City to Los Angeles, according to a BAX communique.

Fish waste contamination comes from discharge pipes in bays and harbors and from the remains of dockside/marina cleaning of sport fishing catches. Juvenile Pelicans mistake the waste for their specialized diet of anchovy and sardines. The grease in fish waste—carcass and remains—contaminates the bird’s feathers, damaging its waterproofing. That compromises its ability to fish successfully without becoming cold and wet.

At times, too, fish remains disable Pelicans from either swallowing the carcass or coughing it up.

Rescue volunteers can reach the BAX/HWCC in Arcata at 822-8839 or www.birdallyx.net.