NEW ORLEANS – Federal officials announced Wednesday that they are removing the brown pelican from the endangered species list, capping a century-long recovery.
The brown pelican is a fixture in Southern California and along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, where President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in order to protect the bird from human slaughter.
Interior Department officials assembled Wednesday at the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge near New Orleans to proclaim the brown pelican “fully recovered” and no longer in need of federal protection.
Brown pelicans were first imperiled by hunters who prized their feathers. Later the bird suffered heavily from the effects of the pesticide DDT, sprayed for mosquito control.
The Interior Department reported that the brown pelican population has swelled to more than 650,000 throughout North and Central America, a recovery which they attribute largely to a federal ban on DDT imposed in 1972.