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What to do if you see a pelican injured or apparently weak....

1. Call a wildlife rehabilitation center (in SB: 681-1080; elsewhere: see below) or call the Harbor Patrol (in SB: 564-5530) or other officials for help; if no one is immediately available, gently help the bird as follows and bring it to a care facility;

2. How to rescue a pelican (seagull, cormorant or other seabird*);

....a. If the bird is acting weak — a normally healthy pelican will not let you approach closely:
— Grasp the bill with one hand. enough to keep it closed but not tightly
— it's very important to not hold the beak tightly closed: being without nostrils, "nares," the pelican could suffocate;
— With your other hand, scoop the bird up, holding the wings close to the body.
— Place in a box large enough for the bird and with air holes and call and transport to a wildlife care facility (see below for Central and Southern California list
of licensed facilities.)

....b. If the bird is healthy, but is hooked or/and has a fishing line attached:
—If he is in the water, slowly reel in the bird, scooping him up with a fishing net;
—Grasp his bill gently but firmly — restrain him with his wings against his body, as above, covering his head;
—Unwind all the fishing line, checking to see if any monofilament line remains and has cut into the bird;
—If the bird is hooked, gently push out the pointed barb, cut the barb and pull out the hook part.

Check the bird carefully for any additional line and then release him carefully to the place found or the water IF there are no possibilities of it being rehooked.

If the bird has swallowed a hook, do not try to remove it but call a wildlife facility (in Santa Barbara. 681-1080.).

Notes: The pelican will be frightened; talk softly, be gentle and keep dogs and, if possible, people away. Weakened pelicans may have avian lice — the presence of lice is an indication of weakness when a bird can't or doesn't have the energy to preen; lice are a nuisance to the rescuer but they do NOT bite people!
*cover the heads of seagulls, cormorants, grebes; they do bite, so calming is important.

Regional Wildlife Care Facilities in Southern California

Animal Recue Team — 805-896-1859
Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network — 805-681-1080
Ventura Wildlife Rescue — 805-498-2794
or after hours in Santa Barbara/Ventura, call June in SB: 805-967-1028

Pacific Wildlife Care, Morro Bay/SLO

International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) Northern California (Main office):
4369 Cordelia Road • Fairfield, CA 94534 • Phone: (707) 207-0380
Southern California: 3601 South Gaffey St.• San Pedro, CA 90731 • (310) 514-2573

S.B. Avian Wildlife Veterinarians and Emergency Care Facilities

Christine Sellers, DVM, 101 W. Mission St., Santa Barbara, 93101, 805-569-2287 - useful resources on her Cat and Bird site:

CARE (California Animal Referral & Emergency Hospital), 301 E. Haley St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805) 899-CARE (2273) — 24 hours emergency.

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association for rehabilitation information.

When there are oil spills: Oiled Wildlife Care Association, administered by the Wildlife Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.

Want to locate a wildlife rehabilitator somewhere/anywhere? Click here!

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory: the source on the web for information on wildlife rehabilitation. Here you will find information on what to do with injured wildlife and who to contact. Information is provided for the public and for the professional wildlife rehabilitator. Many links are provided to sites of interest relating to the field. Information is also present about wildlife in general.

Additional Resources

For injured and alive marine mammals: in Santa Barbara County, please contact the Marine Mammal Center HOTLINE (805) 687-3255. For injured marine mammals in Ventura County, call (805) 388-4344; in San Luis Obispo County, (415) 289-7325
Morro Bay Harbor Department: (805) 772-6254
Pacific Wildlife Care, San Luis Obispo, (805) 543-9453, visit their excellent: pacificwildlifecare.org
Santa Barbara Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society: audubon @ rain.org
Concerning dead cetaceans: call the S. B. Museum of Natural History: (805) 682-4711 X 385
and in Ventura, Channel Islands, Harbor Patrol: (805) 382-3007
US Fish and Wildlife Service: 800-344-9453; general info: (916) 445-0411; miscellaneous contact info: California Department of Fish and Game

Heal the Ocean, a public non-profit action group, dealing with ocean pollution in Santa Barbara waters, with regularly updated beach advisories.

http://pelicanlife.org  © Betsy Robertson Cramer, 2004, all rights reserved.
Contact: info@pelicanlife.org