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Delisted: Brown pelican is no longer an endangered species, say federal officials

November 11, 2009 |  4:56 pm

With all the unsettling animal news that crosses our desks, we're always pleased to be able to share a bit of good news. Our colleague Jim Tankersley reports from New Orleans on the progress that's been made on behalf of the no-longer-endangered brown pelican. Here's an excerpt:

Pelican Federal officials announced today that they are removing the brown pelican from the endangered species list, capping a century-long recovery that started under President Theodore Roosevelt.

The brown pelican is an avian fixture in Southern California and along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, where Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island to protect the bird from human slaughter.

It is an icon in Louisiana, where it is the state bird and where Interior Department officials assembled today at the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge near New Orleans to proclaim the brown pelican "fully recovered" and no longer in need of federal protection.

"In many ways, the brown pelican stands as a symbol of our nation's struggle to protect and conserve our wildlife," said Tom Strickland, assistant Interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, adding that "it's been a long, long steady climb back . . . from the brink of extinction."

Brown pelicans were first imperiled by hunters who prized their feathers. Later the bird suffered heavily from the effects of the pesticide DDT, sprayed for mosquito control, which weakened pelican eggs so that they cracked prematurely.


Photo: A California brown pelican flies over La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, Calif. Credit:  David McNew / Getty Images

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