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California brown pelican may be removed from state endangered species list

February 18, 2009 |  3:03 pm

A California brown pelican dives into the water, successfully grabbing a fish with its beak at the Los Cerritos wetlands in Long Beach.

The California Fish and Game commission has voted unanimously to remove the California brown pelican from the state endangered species list. This is the first time the commission has voted to delist an endangered species due to recovery.

"Every Californian should be proud of this landmark decision," commission president Cindy Gustafson said in a news release. "This is a story of magnificent success. In the 38-year history of our protection of endangered species under the act, the California brown pelican is the first species to fully recover. We hope to have many more."

The delisting recommendation made to the commission by Department of Fish and Game biologists is based on studies showing an increased breeding population of brown pelicans on West Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands, where there is now an estimated 8,500 breeding pairs. This is the only area in California where these birds nest.

The decision will move on to review by the state Office of Administrative Law before the birds can be officially removed from the list. 

No matter the outcome, it will remain illegal to harm or kill a brown pelican in California.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A California brown pelican dives into the water, successfully grabbing a fish with its beak at the Los Cerritos wetlands in Long Beach. Credit: Al Schaben/Los Angeles Times

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