Great example of a conservation success story:
Brown Pelican Populations Recovered, Removed from Endangered Species List
Salazar: Brown Pelican Recovery is “an Amazing Success Story”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Assistant
Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland and U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton today announced that the
brown pelican, a species once decimated by the pesticide DDT, has
recovered and is being removed from the list of threatened and
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
“At a time when so many species of wildlife are threatened, we once in a
while have an opportunity to celebrate an amazing success story,”
Salazar said. “Today is such a day. The brown pelican is back!”
The brown pelican was first declared endangered in 1970 under the
Endangered Species Preservation Act, a precursor to the current
Endangered Species Act. Since then, thanks to a ban on DDT and efforts
by states, conservation organizations, private citizens and many other
partners, the bird has recovered. There are now more than 650,000 brown
pelicans found across Florida and the Gulf and Pacific Coasts, as well
as in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The Fish and Wildlife Service removed the brown pelican population in
Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and northward along the Atlantic Coast states
from the list of endangered species in 1985. Today’s action removes the
remaining population from the list.
“After being hunted for its feathers, facing devastating effects from
the pesticide DDT and suffering from widespread coastal habitat loss,
the pelican has made a remarkable recovery,” Strickland said at a press
conference in New Orleans to announce the delisting. “We once again see
healthy flocks of pelicans in the air over our shores.”
The pelican’s recovery is largely due to the federal ban on the general
use of the pesticide DDT in 1972. This action was taken after former
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Rachel Carson published Silent
Spring and alerted the nation to the widespread dangers associated with
unrestricted pesticide use.
Hamilton praised the Gulf and Pacific Coast states for their constant
efforts to restore this iconic coastal species. “Brown pelicans could
not have recovered without a strong and continuing support network of
partnerships among federal and state government agencies, tribes,
conservation organizations, and individual citizens,” said Hamilton.
“This is truly a success story that the whole nation can celebrate.”
In the southwest, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, The Nature
Conservancy and numerous other conservation organizations helped
purchase important nesting sites and developed monitoring programs to
ensure pelican rookeries were thriving.
Louisiana, long known as the “pelican state,” and the Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission jointly implemented a restoration project. A
total of 1,276 young pelicans were captured in Florida and released at
three sites in southeastern Louisiana during the 13 years of the project.
Past efforts to protect the brown pelican actually led to the birth of
the National Wildlife Refuge System more than a century ago in central
Florida. German immigrant Paul Kroegel, appalled by the indiscriminate
slaughter of pelicans for their feathers, approached President Theodore
Roosevelt. This led Roosevelt to create the first National Wildlife
Refuge at Pelican Island in 1903, when Kroegel was named the first
refuge manager. Today, the system has grown to 550 national wildlife
refuges, many of which have played key roles in the recovery of the
With removal of the brown pelican from the list of threatened and
endangered species, federal agencies will no longer be required to
consult with the Service to ensure any action they authorize, fund, or
carry out will not harm the species. However, additional federal laws,
such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act, will continue
to protect the brown pelican, its nests and its eggs.
The Service has developed a Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan, designed to
monitor and verify that the recovered, delisted population remains
secure from the risk of extinction once the protections of the ESA are
removed. The Service can relist the brown pelican if future monitoring
or other information shows it is necessary to prevent a significant risk
to the brown pelican.
The monitoring will be done in cooperation with the State resource
agencies, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico,
other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.
Further, the Service is working with state natural resource agencies
where the brown pelican occurs to develop cooperative management
agreements to ensure that the species continues to be monitored.
The final rule removing the bird from the list of threatened and
endangered species will be published in the Federal Register and will
take effect 30 days after publication.