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State Examines Pelican Problem

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The state joins federal wildlife officials and rescue groups looking into the problem.

One of those rescue groups is in Fairfield: the International Bird Rescue Center. They’re treating about a hundred pelicans.

Spokesman Paul Kelway says oily runoff from recent storms is reducing the ability of the pelican feathers to insulate the birds. That’s leading to hypothermia.  

“Their feathers were not clean. They’re not in their kind of natural condition which is what usually allows these birds to stay warm and dry out in the environment. So when these storms pass through, these birds were not able to sustain themselves and stay dry out there. Birds that were already struggling to find food were dying.” 

Researchers say many birds may have already been weak from hunger as their usual prey of anchovies and sardines has vanished - possibly because of warm-water changes caused by El Nino.
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