BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Ungainly in takeoff and landing, but graceful in flight, the brown pelican is familiar to Gulf Coast residents. And now it may be soaring to a point where it no longer perches on the endangered species list.
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released what it calls a post-delisting monitoring plan. If approved, the brown pelican, which once all but disappeared, will be monitored for 10 years to ensure its comeback continues.
“They’re doing much better than they were,” said Terri Jacobson, a wildlife biologist with Fish and Wildlife.
The birds have been protected as an endangered species for 39 years, but their numbers along the Gulf are climbing again. The monitoring plan now under review could eventually lead to taking pelicans off the endangered species list, “but no decision has been made” yet, Jacobson said.
The near-annihilation of pelicans and their miraculous return are the stuff of folklore along the Gulf. Once, it seemed, they were everywhere.
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