Please don't feed the pelicans
As I See It
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Media contact: Rodney Barreto
Just don't do it.
I've written about this before, but we're still
seeing the effects of brown pelicans becoming dependent on
throw-away fish and fish scraps, and I felt it was important to
bring up the subject again.
In Jacksonville this winter, approximately 30
pelicans have died. These dead birds have been sent to a wildlife
laboratory for testing, and we're still awaiting the results.
However, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists, cold weather stress and
the alteration of migration due to feeding may be to blame.
The birds had been gathering at a local
seafood-processing plant, where fish scraps are readily available.
Our law enforcement personnel are working with that facility to
alter the way they dispose of fish and fish scraps. We are also
working with a local bird sanctuary to assist in saving birds that
are sick or stressed.
FWC staff and other experts worry about the overall
health of brown pelican populations. Because of this concern, the
Commission passed a rule in 2008 to stop the feeding of large
numbers of pelicans.
The activities no longer permitted under this rule
- Dumping or discharging large amounts of fish scraps, bycatch or
comparable materials from a fish house or similar facility. This
attracts large numbers of pelicans to that area and causes changes
in their behavior. By indirectly feeding pelicans, such large-scale
activities can have a detrimental effect on a brown pelican
population by inhibiting migration and leading to
cold-weather-induced illness and injury.
- Individuals or groups feeding large numbers of pelicans at
regular places and times. This does not apply to feeding pelicans
that are captive or under care at places such as a rehabilitation
- Anglers tossing scraps at public fishing piers and beaches.
Public piers that attract large numbers of fishermen may want to
consider creating scrap chutes, where folks can dump the abundant
leftovers to keep them away from pelicans.
The intent of this rule is not to regulate the
occasional or the casual feeding of individual pelicans. This rule
provides an enforcement tool to resolve situations where
large-scale feeding could negatively influence the health or
survival of a pelican.
You can help keep pelican populations healthy by
not feeding them.
If available, use fish-scrap repositories at piers
and docks. If they are not available, discard your fish scraps in a
garbage can or at home.
Your efforts will help keep pelican populations
healthy and wild. Please don't feed them.