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Brown Pelicans Released After Oil Spill Cleanup at Breton National Wildlife
Date Posted: July 14, 2005Sixty-three endangered brown pelicans that had been coated with light crude oil have been released on an island at Breton National Wildlife Refuge following treatment at a Venice, Louisiana rehabilitation facility.
The juvenile birds were among those being treated after an oil spill was discovered to have fouled their nesting grounds at Breton on June 13. The birds were captured and taken to Venice, where rehab experts from around the nation converged and began treatment in a race to save them from the deadly effects of the oil.
Because the juvenile pelicans had yet not learned to fly or fend for themselves, a hacking program was implemented in which the birds were taught the skills they would need to survive in the wild. The released birds will be monitored to determine whether aspects of the hacking program need to be continued on the island. Additional releases of birds from the rehab facility are planned in the coming days and weeks.
The released birds are part of a population of approximately 260 surviving brown pelicans treated in the wake of the spill. An additional 700 birds died either on the island, in transit to the rehab facility, or after treatment had begun. The cause of the spill is under investigation.
Breton National Wildlife Refuge is one of a network of refuges across the country managed to preserve wildlife and habitat. Portions of Breton are also designated as Class I Wilderness. The refuge is the second-oldest in the nation, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004.