May 21, 2014

Rescue of American white pelican

Photo by Rick Neubauer.

One week ago, Rick Neubauer was enjoying his usual walk along the shoreline of the Indian Creek Reservoir in Woodfords when he spotted an American white pelican in the water and in distress. It appeared to be dragging something.

In his quest for help, he made contact with International Bird Rescue (IBR) in Fairfield, and through IBR he was put in touch with WES.

WES' founder Rebecca Dmytryk asked Rick to send images of the bird and its surroundings to help in planning a rescue.


Photo by Rick Neubauer.
When Rick went back the next day to locate the injured pelican, he was informed of a second white pelican in trouble - this one had heavy line coming out of its mouth. Apparently, he'd swallowed a fishing stringer - it's a line with multiple loops used to hold a fisherman's catch. 

Rick documented both pelicans and sent the images to Rebecca. 

Rebecca posted a notice about the pelicans online, hoping to get a local wildlife rescue organization to respond... and they did, indeed.

Jolena Hearn, a volunteer with the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center (LTWC) heard about the pelican and started looking for helping hands. 

She contacted friend and coworker Toogee Sielsch to ask about borrowing his kayak and he immediately volunteered to help. His friend, Dwayne, also stepped up. Jo then contacted her friends Bob and Jenny Sweatt, and they instantly jumped at the chance. In less than an hour Jo had assembled a pelican rescue team!!!

The following day, Friday, the team assembled at the wildlife center and loaded the truck with the necessary gear and then headed to the reservoir.

When they arrived, the wind was blowing hard, which can make a kayaks hard to control, but they decided to give it a try.


Toogee, Dwayne, Bob and Jenny started herding the pelican, pushing it to shore. After a few attempts, the bird finally walked onto land where Jo was waiting with a large net.



The pelican was taken back to the wildlife center where it was treated to remove the stringer. 

Radiograph showing the stringer in the bird's stomach. LTWC.

Today, the white pelican was released back at the reservoir. 

Shelly Blair, local biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife was on hand and had this to say about the rescue:
Our Department, CDFW, has very limited resources to address injured and abandon wildlife calls.  If it weren’t for these caring, devoted volunteers, many of these incidents would never be addressed and animals would suffer those consequences.  It is always a privilege to partner with these groups and even more rewarding when the situation ends successfully.  
Photo by Rick Neubauer.

Also today, the pelican that Rick had originally called about was spotted on the reservoir and was successfully captured. Unfortunately, its injuries were too severe and it was euthanized.

Pelican with injured wing being herded to shore. Photo by Rick Neubauer.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who 
helped rescue these majestic birds!

Especially to Rick, for going out of his way to find help and assist with the rescues!

THANK YOU, RICK!!!

Rick Neubauer