Pelicans, injured by fishing hooks, freed

The Associated Press
Saturday August 04, 2001

BERKELEY — Two weeks after being injured by fishing hooks and fishing lines, five brown pelicans hobbled out of their cages and jumped onto the rocks at the Berkeley Marina Thursday. 

About 50 pelicans have been brought to the rescue center so far this year. The birds get injured while diving for fish, winding up with the hooks embedded in their wings and fishing wire wrapped around their bodies. 

But not all of them can be saved. If fishing wire cuts off a bird’s leg or it is too emaciated, the pelican is euthanized, said Jay Holcomb, director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia. 

The rescue center is beginning a campaign to educate anglers that cutting fishing lines in the water or leaving hooks behind is dangerous for birds. Although the campaign will center in brown pelicans, because the are an endangered species, it stressed all birds that scour for fish are in danger. 

Brown pelicans were once on the brink of extinction from the effects of the pesticide DDT on breeding. They were listed as endangered in 1970 and the pesticide was banned in the United States two years later.