State/National/WorldNews Briefs

Elevated Incidence of Illness Detected in California Brown Pelicans

Since late April, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has received an increased number of reports regarding California brown pelicans, a fully protected species, stranded along the coast from Santa Cruz County south to San Diego County. Central and Southern California wildlife rehabilitation facilities have begun admitting an unusually high number of sick pelicans displaying signs of emaciation and some with secondary injuries.

CDFW, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), wildlife rehabilitation facilities and other state partners, are collaborating to assess the ongoing situation. CDFW is conducting postmortem examinations and testing on pelicans admitted to wildlife rehabilitation facilities, with preliminary results indicating that starvation-related problems are the cause.

Stranding events periodically occur along the California coast in various seabird species. A similar pelican stranding event occurred in spring 2022, with nearly 800 pelicans admitted to wildlife rehabilitation facilities and 394 successfully returned to the wild.

Officials advise the public against touching, harassing, attempting to feed or taking photographs with pelicans. They also urge people not to attempt to remove fishing lines or embedded fishing hooks from entangled birds.

CDFW and agency partners will continue to monitor this stranding event.

How Can the Public Help? 

 Report an injured or sick pelican:

Report a dead pelican:

  • Residents can report dead wildlife to CDFW’s Wildlife Health Laboratory using the mortality reporting form, which helps biologists monitor the event. Please include photos if possible.

Support a local Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility:

Contact permitted facilities intaking brown pelicans directly for how to best assist.

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