Release Date: 06/12/2007

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) personnel started work today on moving 100 to 150 brown pelican fledglings from Last (Raccoon) Island to Whiskey Island on the Louisiana coast.

"Following the hurricanes of 2005, brown pelican colonies were impacted and several were lost to erosive forces primarily east of the Mississippi River," said Michael Carloss, LDWF Fur and Refuge Division biologist program manager.  "This project will help spread the brown pelican population out that will in time produce more nesting sites and thus a healthier pelican population."

The brown pelican translocation is the first year of a three-year translocation project that will introduce new nesting colonies in the vicinity of traditional brown pelican nesting areas.  The hurricanes reduced nesting potential on many remaining colony sites as a result of erosion and reduction in land elevation from wave scouring.

This translocation project is being funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) $200,000 grant.  USFWS received a special congressional appropriation for monitoring and conservation of wildlife in response to the 2005 hurricanes.  LDWF developed several grant proposals for hurricane impact related projects.

"Supporting this project is essential to effective stewardship of this protected species," said Jim Boggs, Field Supervisor for the Service's Ecological Services office in Lafayette.

Boggs went on to say this effort "melds perfectly with our desire to also try to replenish the coastal area with splays from the Mississippi to replicate the natural land-building process so long altered by channelizing the river."

Translocation is a proven wildlife management technique that will assure quality brown pelican nesting sites west of the Mississippi River.  LDWF used this strategy from 1984 to 1986 when they translocated fledglings from Queen Bess Colony to Raccoon Island.  LDWF biologists estimated 3,600 brown pelican nesting pairs at Raccoon Island on May 10, 2007.

Biologists are targeting young birds that still have about three weeks before taking to the air; this will help ensure that they stay on the island instead of returning to their original nests.  LDWF is also tagging some of the fledglings that will be used to monitor the project and future research.

A University of Louisiana Lafayette doctoral student, who will have to feed the pelicans daily for the first three weeks as they become accustomed to their new surroundings, will monitor the relocated pelicans.

For more information, contact Michael Carloss at 337-373-0032 or mcarloss@wlf.louisiana.gov.