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ODFW reminds people not to feed brown pelicans

Pelicans in Yachats Bay Ken Gagne

Pelicans in Yachats Bay
Ken Gagne

From Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

NEWPORT, Ore. – The brown pelican, with its famous large throat pouch and gregarious personality, is one of the most distinctive birds on the Oregon coast.

Under normal circumstances, brown pelicans sustain themselves sustain themselves by scooping up small fish in their large bills while swimming in the ocean.

Pelicans are also known to accept an easier but more dangerous fare – junk food given to them by well-meaning but misinformed people.

ODFW biologists have recently noted several pelicans in Siletz successfully approaching and begging for food. Don’t fall for this ruse, they say.

“Feeding pelicans is almost never a good idea,” said Doug Cottam, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Newport. “While it might seem like you’re helping them, feeding these birds likely causes more harm than good.

In fact, according to Cottam, feeding these birds can actually put their lives at risk. For one thing, human food can make them sick. Feeding can also disrupt their migration patterns by encouraging them to hang out along the north coast when what they should be doing is migrating to their winter breeding grounds in Baja California.

“While we appreciate people’s concern for brown pelicans. But the best way to help them is to leave them alone,” said Cottam.

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