(FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida) -- On Thursday, Feb. 7, six pelicans were released back into the wild at Dania Beach after they received medical treatment and rehabilitation at the South Florida Wildlife Center. Their injuries were caused by fishhooks, the leading source of medical issues for pelicans seen at the wildlife hospital, which typically treats more than 150 birds yearly for ingested hooks.

Debra Parsons-Drake, executive director of South Florida Wildlife Center, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We treat a staggering number of birds who are injured by inappropriately discarded fishhooks. This time of year, when both brown and white pelicans are wintering in South Florida, nearly all of our pelican patients have primary or secondary fishhook injuries. Our veterinary team performs surgery, treats gaping wounds, manually removes snared hooks and does everything else possible for these animals. Tragically, they do not all survive. These issues are preventable by taking care when casting fishing lines and by discarding fishhooks and fishing line in appropriate containers.”

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States who participated in the pelicans’ release on the beach, said: “Sea birds are innocent bystanders whose ingestion of hooks and lines can cause them severe pain and often death. This can be easily avoided with proper disposal of fishing equipment. When humans stop throwing trash carelessly away on beaches and in oceans they can make a lifesaving difference for these birds and other animals. The pelicans released were lucky to receive the care they needed from our incredible team at South Florida Wildlife Center.”

Circumstances for the pelicans released on February 7:

  • Admitted Jan. 2, a pelican was found at Lighthouse Point with a hook and line injury.
  • Admitted Jan. 6, a pelican who was found on a public beach in Lake Worth was weak and sick with many internal fishhooks which he regurgitated.
  • Admitted Jan. 12, a pelican was found at a pier in Lake Worth and could not get flight lift. The bird had three fishhooks in his abdomen, one in his head, and one in the roof of his mouth.
  • Admitted on Jan. 22, a pelican was found in Dania with a large, quarter-sized open wound in his pouch.
  • Admitted Jan. 25, a pelican was found in Jupiter weak, sick and thin.  A band had been placed in North Carolina in July 2018.
  • Admitted Jan. 26, a pelican was found in Lauderdale by the Sea with a hook injury under his wing, two hooks and a tackle/weight.

Before releasing the birds, South Florida Wildlife Center bands the pelicans and enters their information into a national database including their age, eye color, length of the beck, body condition, weight, and release date.

To support South Florida Wildlife Center click HERE.

For photos and video of the pelicans click HERE. 

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