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11/13/2009

Brown Pelican Removed From Endangered Species List

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced that the brown pelican population has recovered and that it will soon be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.  This is a huge win and acts as a powerful testimony to the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the amazing recoveries that it can engender.

The brown pelican has a long and storied history: from being hunted for its feathers, to having its coastal habitat slowly industrialized and developed, and finally being decimated by the pesticide DDT.  Efforts to protect the bird extend back more than a century.  President Theodore Roosevelt helped created the National Wildlife Refuge System in large part to protect the pelican from hunters and established the first such refuge at Pelican Island in Florida.  By 1970, with the widespread use of DDT, the bird's population dropped to as low as 10,000.  In that year it was declared endangered under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act.  Now, thanks to the ESA and robust recovery programs, there are around 650,000 birds.  This is cause for celebration for the pelican and the power of the Endangered Species Act.

Read the DOI press release here.

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