Why Hundreds of Pelicans Are Dying off Central Coast. Hundreds of California brown pelicans dying off along the coast, biologists say the animals dying is now a natural thing. Experts we spoke with said within last few years the pelican population got back to normal and now there's too many and not enough food for them.
In the last few days hundreds of California brown pelicans have been rescued along California's Coast. Rescue crews said most they've seen are starving or near death. Rebecca Dmytryk is the Director for WildRescue. She says pelicans have been showing up sick everywhere. "It's up and down the coast. At least as far south as Orange County. We're seeing an influx of dying pelicans. Hundreds of them all babies," said Dmytryk.
Here's why biologists think they're dying off. It's called "Failure to Thrive," in other words survival of the fittest, and that's why most of the rescued are young. The brown pelican was put on the endangered species list in the 70s and was de-listed in 2009 because the population bounced back. Marine biologist Carrie Wilson of Fish & Game says the die-off is nature's way of managing the population size. "Their breeding has been so successful that there are large numbers of them now that as they fledge they have to learn how to care for themselves very quickly," said Wilson.
California brown pelicans are the only ones having trouble, because of what they eat. There's limited amounts of sardines and anchovies and the younger birds are taking the hit because they are less experienced with finding food. "We know that probably about 80% starve and die off each year and it's actually a natural occurrence, which benefits the population," said Wilson.
"If we start to see the adults die of starvation, that's time for us to have some major concern here about what's going on," said Dmytryk. It gets costly taking care of so many of these wild pelicans, about $15 per day for a single animal. If you see them out just leave them alone, unless they are injured then you need to contact your local rescue group.