July 28, 2010
Austin, Texas – Twenty wild brown pelicans rehabilitated after exposure to the BP
oil spill were transported from Louisiana by plane and released at Goose
Island State Park near Rockport around 12:30 p.m. today, the first release
of spill-rehabbed birds at a Texas state park.
There were three previous bird releases in June at the Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge near Rockport, including June 20 involving 38 pelicans and
one Royal tern, June 23 involving 62 pelicans and one northern gannet, and
June 27 involving 72 pelicans. (continued below)
Birds rescued after being oiled in the Gulf Coast region are rehabilitated
and released in Gulf states after wildlife veterinarians determine they are
sufficiently prepared to re-enter their natural habitats.
Today’s bird release included 16 brown pelicans from Louisiana and four
from Mississippi. The release was a joint effort involving the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard, wildlife veterinarians and
rehabilitation specialists, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The pelicans were released one at a time on a shell beach on the north end
of Goose Island, a small section of barrier island just off the mainland.
As each bird flew out from its transportation carrier, they congregated in
the bay a few hundred feet offshore, where they appeared to preen and clean
their feathers in a group for several minutes before eventually flying
Goose Island State Park has a resident flock of brown pelicans, so
authorities know the area provides suitable habitat for the birds. Last
November, the brown pelican was removed from the federal endangered species
list, nearly 40 years after it was brought to the brink of extinction by
DDT. Although more numerous today than when originally listed, bird numbers
are still low, and officials say the available habitat on the Texas coast
has plenty of carrying capacity to sustain the released birds.