Magnificent seven: Healed pelicans go back to the wild

Brown pelican   Frank Schulenburg

After mending for two weeks, seven brown pelicans were recently released into their habitat near the Snell Isle in Coffee Pot Bayou.

Kris Porter and a team of rescuers from Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife took care of the pelicans after they were found among approximately 70 sick or dead birds by a fish kill near Riviera Bay, which is close to Snell Isle. The rookery is also home to hundreds of birds that have not exhibited symptoms so far.

Scientists took samples of the water to look for potential causes of the illness. While the area was at first closed to human traffic, it was later reopened after it was deemed safe for human recreation. The tests, along with other studies by the state conservation commission and an independent firm hired by the city, have not identified a cause at this point.

Porter has spent more than 40 years working with wildlife and taking part in wildlife rescues. She says that although the pelican deaths might have been due to natural causes, she would not rule out the nearby fish kill or a red tide caused by cold weather inversion.

"It seems that we see pelican issues every January, but I'm just happy to have these birds better," Porter said.

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