For many Californians, our magnificent coastline is part of our natural identity, and the Brown Pelican is a treasured part of that image. The Brown Pelican is one of the most distinctive and popular birds that call California home, but it came very close to disappearing altogether.
Like the Bald Eagle, the Brown Pelican was nearly driven to extinction due to pollutants such as DDT. It was first declared endangered in 1970 under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, the precursor to the current Endangered Species Act. Since then, the bird has staged a remarkable comeback.
In 2009, in recognition of the birds remarkable comeback, the Brown Pelican was removed from both the California and Federal Endangered Species Lists. Audubon California supported this delisting, but has insisted that the population continue to be closely monitored, as it still faces a number of environmental challenges.
It is estimated that there are now more than 70,680 nesting pairs of California Brown Pelicans. The latest proposal would remove all Endangered Species Act protections for the bird.
Although the Brown Pelican population has increased substantially, much of its breeding grounds face near constant threat from human activity, particularly pollution risks such as oil and sewage spills. Moreover, the Brown Pelican needs fish to survive, which links the species to the continued health of marine fisheries.
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