American White Pelican Rescued in Newport Beach Gets a Send-Off

An American White Pelican, who was found in Newport Beach in November weak, disoriented and suffering from a severely fractured mandible and foot entangled in a fishing lure, is scheduled to be released back into the wild on Thursday—fully recovered.

And you’re invited to the send-off.

Several rescue attempts were unsuccessful after the pelican was first spotted at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. When the bird landed on a residential driveway in Newport Beach, that city’s Animal Control Officer Nick Ott was able to capture it safely.

The pelican was quickly transported to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, “where it received stabilizing care and had the fishing lure carefully removed,” according to International Bird Rescue. Volunteers from the San Pedro-based nonprofit then had the pelican’s injuries treated by its team of wildlife experts, including Bird Rescue staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr.

“I have seen a lot of horrible wounds from this type of lure before, but this is the first time I’ve seen a bird fracture its jaw due to one,” says Duerr in a statement that also notes the pelican was “extremely thin, anemic and suffering from multiple critical neck and foot wounds plus a grisly lower jaw fracture.”

All of the injuries are suspected to be the result of fishing lure entanglement, according to Bird Rescue.

Under the nonprofit’s care, the pelican nearly doubled its weight over its two-month recovery. It also literally became a poster child, having been included on the roster of candidates for 2017 Bird of the Year “in hopes of drawing attention to the challenges of fishing line and fish hook entanglement,” Bird Rescue says.

“We are grateful for the actions of the people that found this pelican and for all the organizations that collaborated to rescue it,” says Bird Rescue Executive Director JD Bergeron. “We can all do a bit more to keep an eye out for wildlife in danger and to remove dangerous litter like fish hooks.”

The public is invited to the pelican’s send-off at noon Thursday at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, 5 Riparian View, Irvine. (Enter off Campus Drive; parking is available on site; see map below.)

If you’d like to donate to the rescuers, visit www.bird-rescue.org and/or www.wwccoc.org.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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