Local News

Thursday, May 15 2014 01:27 PM

Rescued Hart Park pelican dies from injuries

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The pelican rescued by Californian Living Museum staff Friday wades in the small pool at CALM Saturday, May 10, after receiving some medical treatment by Don Richardson, the curator.

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  2. 2 of 4

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The American White Pelican that was rescued Friday by CALM staff rests nicely with several wounds on her in a small wading pool Saturday, May 10 at the California Living Museum. CALM officials said Thursday that the pelican has died.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    CALM curator Don Richardson examines the fishing lure that was removed from the pelican's bill Friday by Richardson and staff members.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    This American White Pelican, photographed May 8, has a fishing lure stuck in its bill on this island in Hart Park. CALM workers rescued the pelican to try to bring it back to health, but it later died.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

If only they’d known sooner.

If only someone had called the California Living Museum to let experts know a beautiful American white pelican’s bill and body were damaged by fish hooks and a large lure.

If only rescuers had been summoned to Hart Park faster, the bird that could no longer fly might have made it.

Instead, the pelican CALM hoped to nurse back to health died Monday after its three-hour Friday rescue.

As zoo manager Lana Fain said Thursday, when the death was announced, “time is of the essence when you’re dealing with wildlife.”

Nobody knows for sure how long the bird had been injured, but exposed shattered bone, wounds from hooks lodged in its feet, severe infection and parasites were just too much to fight.

“The outcome had we gotten that bird in earlier? Who knows,” Fain said. The pelican was believed to be part of a flock that was in the park in October, and maybe it was left behind because it was hurt.

There’s a lesson here.

“They survive out there for so long,” Fain said. “Our main thing is, apparently that bird had been out there a long time.”

The injuries weren’t new. As for the deep sea lure stuck in its bill, where and when that happened, we’ll never know. The origin of three major wounds on the bird’s left side isn’t clear.

Normally, if you agitate birds, they’ll fly away, Fain said. This pelican just swam from bank to bank.

Once at CALM, it moved to a kiddie pool, and thoughts of recovery strengthened.

Now thoughts turn to the next animal that needs help. Fain said CALM is a state permitted rehabilitation center. Anyone who sees injured wildlife should call authorities, the zoo manager said. Information is available from CALM at 872-2256.

There are so many successes, Fain said, when the right people are alerted to injured wildlife. Fain said the CALM staff did a great job trying to save the bird.

“When you are in the rescue situation, we put everything into it,” Fain said. “It’s heartbreaking when you lose the animal.”

If only they’d known sooner.

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