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Brown Pelicans nesting off San Miguel Is.

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    California Department of Fish and Game OSPR University of California Santa Cruz June 6, 2006 - News Release More Signs of Return for California Brown
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2006
      California Department of Fish and Game OSPR
      University of California Santa Cruz
      June 6, 2006 - News Release

      More Signs of Return for California Brown Pelicans

      For the first time since 1939, endangered California brown pelicans
      are nesting on Prince Island, according to the Department of Fish and
      Game (DFG) and seabird biologists from the University of California,
      Santa Cruz (UCSC). As part of a contract with the DFG Office of Spill
      Prevention and Response (OSPR), biologists from UCSC counted 43
      pelican nests on May 16 during an aerial monitoring survey of seabird
      breeding colonies in the Channel Islands National Park and the
      Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

      Prince Island, located near San Miguel Island at the north end of the
      pelican's main historical breeding range in southern California, is
      one of three current breeding locations in California; pelicans
      nested there sporadically at least until 1939. Natural colony re-
      establishment at Prince Island and other historic breeding sites
      could reflect the continuing return of this endangered seabird.

      The California brown pelican is a subspecies of the widely
      distributed brown pelican. It breeds in the Gulf of California, along
      the Sinaloa and Nayarit coast of mainland Mexico, along the Pacific
      coast of Baja California, and north to the California Channel
      Islands. Non-breeding pelicans range north along the Pacific coast as
      far as Washington and British Columbia.

      Following reproductive failure, severe population decline, and colony
      losses from the 1940s to 1970s, the California brown pelican was
      federally-listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
      (USFWS) in 1970, and state-listed as endangered by the California
      Fish and Game Commission in 1971. The pelican is also identified as a
      Fully Protected species in California under Section 3511 of the Fish
      and Game Code. The USFWS was petitioned to de-list this subspecies in
      California in December 2005, and recently completed an initial 90-day
      review of that petition. The Service will now undertake a more
      comprehensive study, known as a 12 month status review, to determine
      whether or not to propose the California brown pelican for delisting.
      The Service will also review the status of all brown pelicans
      currently protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout
      their range as required.

      The decline of the California brown pelican caused by persistent
      marine pollutants was one of the major events that helped to develop
      public concern for the environment and related laws in California in
      the late 1960s and early 1970s. Contamination by the pesticide DDT
      resulted in thin eggshells that broke under the pressure of
      incubating adult pelicans. The pesticide was determined to be the
      primary cause of reproductive failures and population declines in
      southern California and coastal Baja California, and was banned in
      the U.S. in 1972. Human disturbance of breeding colonies and roosts
      also contributed to population declines and poor reproduction. Oil
      spills and entanglement in fishing tackle are other known threats to
      this species.

      Recovery efforts in the last three decades have resulted in the
      seabird again becoming a common bird along the west coast of the
      U.S., after being reduced to small numbers from the 1960s to 1980s.

      Researchers from the University of California, Davis, and California
      Institute of Environmental Studies (CIES) began studying the
      remaining U.S. colony of birds at Anacapa Island in 1970. The size of
      this colony fluctuates annually (as is typical of the species), but
      has increased since the early 1980s to a mean size of about four to
      five thousand pairs. In 1980, a second U.S. colony was established at
      Santa Barbara Island and has been monitored by CIES and Channel
      Islands National Park. Since then, this colony has grown steadily but
      with annual fluctuations to several hundred pairs.

      During the last year, CIES biologists found other indications of the
      seabird's continuing recovery, including the first-known nesting at
      Middle Anacapa Island, small numbers breeding on East Anacapa Island
      (only the second time since 1928), and an expanded distribution of
      pelican nesting at Santa Barbara Island. Since the 1970s, numbers of
      non-breeding California brown pelicans have also increased
      dramatically in northern California, Oregon and Washington.

      UCSC aerial photographic surveys of seabird colonies in southern
      California are being supported by DFG-OSPR. Seabirds are vulnerable
      to impacts from oil spills and chronic oil pollution, as well as
      disturbance caused by human activities occurring too close to
      breeding areas. Using aerial photographs, seabird biologists are able
      to count birds and nests to estimate population sizes and trends for
      assessing continuing injuries to natural resources from oil spills
      and other marine pollutants. Aerial photographs are also used to
      study the success rates of restoration projects designed to assist
      natural recovery. DFG-OSPR provides partial funding for similar
      surveys in central and northern California.

      Julie Yamamoto, California Department of Fish and Game - Office of
      Spill Prevention and Response,
      (916) 445-9338
      Dale Steele, California Department of Fish and Game - Wildlife
      Species Program, (916) 653-3444
      Phil Capitolo, University of California, Santa Cruz, Seabird
      Biologist, (415) 279-8627
      Lois Grunwald, Ventura Field Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
      (815) 644-1766
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