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Pelican Rescues at Ft. Stevens Both Tragic and Comical | Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Published 08/18/21 at 4:24 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Pelican Rescue at Ft. Stevens Both Tragic and Comical | Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Warrenton, Oregon) – A pair of pelicans were found on a north Oregon coast beach Tuesday, entangled in some sort of lengthy string or line, causing one to drown and the other to be rescued. The situation turned out to be at once tragic and comic, with the living pelican getting a happy ending, but not before a rather amusing rescue was snagged on video.

Crews from Seaside Aquarium were called in for the rescue, as they are a part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and it's their role to attend to situations like this.

“We came across a very sad scene this morning,” said Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium. “Two pelicans were entangled in fishing line. While one was still alive, it appeared that the other pelican had drowned and died.”

Boothe said they were able to cut much of the line, but some of it was embedded deeply into the wing of the living pelican and he was unable to fly.

“Luckily, we were able to safely capture the injured pelican, which was taken to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, a license nonprofit animal rehab center,” Boothe said. “If all goes well, this pelican will get the care he needs and released once healthy enough to fend for itself.”

Rescuing the living pelican off this north Oregon coast beach proved to be at once dramatic and rather amusing. The video shows manager Keith Chandler trying to wrestle the great bird, first trying to catch it without getting bitten, then slowly getting a firm grip on it and carrying it over to the box for transportation. That part proved challenging as well.

“Once you get hold of its beak you can handle it well,” Chandler said. “He was pretty frisky, but that line was deep down into his wing. I wanted to just cut him loose and let him fly, but it was too hard working with a big knife right there on the beach, and it was clear he'd need more care than that.”

Chandler has had plenty of experience rescuing these birds in the past and he's been bitten before.

“It doesn't hurt too bad,” he said. “They snap, though.”

At the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, veterinarian Ginger Nealon said the pelican was doing pretty well.

“He wasn't too bad,” Nealon told Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

"It turns out it was more some kind of long, yellow string than a fishing line, and it was pretty well wrapped around his elbow."

Nealon was able to remove that, and said the pelican had no dramatic injuries, no fractures but some abrasions. Unless they discover something new in the next day or so, he'll likely recover quite quickly.

“He's doing well,” Nealon said. “We're keeping him hydrated, giving him plenty of support for the next few days, making sure he's got plenty of fish to eat.”

The plan is not to hold onto him for too long, maybe a couple of weeks or so.

“It will be a few days for the swelling to go down,” she said. “Then a few days for him to stretch his wings.”

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