Pelicans Found Dead At Ocean Springs Harbor - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/14/03

Pelicans Found Dead At Ocean Springs Harbor

The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of five pelicans.

The dead birds were found over the past week at the Ocean Springs harbor.

A wildlife specialist who examined four of the dead pelicans says they showed no signs of gunshot wounds or any other obvious injuries. U-S Fish and Wildlife investigators will examine the birds in the lab to try and find out what's killing them.

Dozens of brown pelicans consider the harbor home. Most days you'll find them perched on a piling or gracefully gliding over the water.

But the Ocean Spring harbormaster discovered something quite unusual several days ago.

"He had picked up two dead pelicans. And when he had found them one of them as partially laying in the water, the other was on one of the piers. But they were like ten feet apart from each other. And he had told me that just several days prior to that, he had picked up a dead one and didn't think much of it since it was just a single bird," said wildlife rehabilitation expert, Alison Sharpe.

Sharpe picked up the dead birds and sent them to the regional U-S Fish and Wildlife office in Louisiana.

An occasional single dead bird would not raise much concern. But the deaths of several pelicans in the same area certainly does. Two more dead pelicans were found at the harbor over the weekend.

"The pelicans have made an incredible comeback to this area as we all know, but it doesn't take much of anything to put them back into the category of being in a situation where they would remain on the endangered species list," said Sharpe.

The favorite hangout for the harbor pelicans is near the fish cleaning table. The two dead pelicans found over the weekend were discovered just a few yards away, in some rocks underneath the Shearwater Bridge.

Although they've made quite a comeback, pelicans remain a protected species.

Alison Sharpe is hoping lab tests will determine what's behind the mysterious deaths.

"We have no idea what's causing them to die," she said.

Two of the dead pelicans are currently being stored at the U-S Fish and Wildlife regional office in Slidell. An investigator says the birds will be sent to a lab in Ashland, Oregon for a necropsy.

Special agent Steven Clark could not say how long that process might take.

By Steve Phillips 

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