A endangered American white pelican is pictured at wildlife rescue in Burnaby, B.C., Friday, November, 1, 2019. The pelican faces a long recovery after being injured by some fishing line discarded in a British Columbia lake. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Injured endangered white pelican found in Okanagan lake faces long road to recovery

The bird had been near Tucelnuit Lake in Oliver, B.C.

An American white pelican stood in front of two mirrors in a tiny recovery room on Friday, stretching to reveal a glaring wound and messy feathers on its left wing.

The endangered bird was discovered in British Columbia’s southern Interior last week with punctures and tears caused by hooks from a fishing line. The pelican was brought to the Wildlife Association of BC in Metro Vancouver, where staff said it faced a long recovery.

Janelle Stephenson, hospital manager for the non-profit association, said local residents told the rescue crew the bird had been near Tucelnuit Lake in Oliver for about two to three weeks while his flock was flying south.

“All his friends had left,” she said at a news conference.

The pelican had managed to survive on the fish from lake but wouldn’t have lasted much longer, Stephenson said.

“It was consistent with fish hook injuries, quite starved, emaciated … and not doing the best,” she said.

“He was slowly wearing away at his fat stores and muscle stores and the infection from the wound was getting into his blood stream.”

The pelican weighs about 5.5 kilograms and is underweight, Stephenson said, adding it is about 70 per cent of his normal weight.

READ MORE: Wildlife group reminds of pollution dangers after pelican hurt in Okanagan lake

American white pelicans are an endangered species because of their small, extremely localized and vulnerable breeding population, according to the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia.

The population estimate for British Columbia is 1,100 to 1,200 birds, and the estimate for the number of breeding pairs is 300 to 500, it says.

The bird atlas says it breeds in scattered, larger wetlands in western and southern North America, and winters in the United States’ Southern Coastal Plains and coastal California through Mexico and Central America.

Stephenson says it looks like the pelican at the wildlife rescue association will spend winter in recovery with them.

It may not be able to fly at all if its wounds heal poorly, she said.

Right now the bird is feeding on smelt, herring and supplements along with antibiotics and other medications to help in recovery, she said.

It is also receiving physiotherapy where staff stretch its left wing to aid in healing.

Staff at the rescue association don’t know the age of the pelican and don’t have a name for it. It is known by its case number, 19-3974.

On Friday, it snapped its yellow beak as it looked around the warm room where it is recovering. A black bucket with fish sat in a corner.

“The personality is a little bit less feisty than it should be,” Stephenson said, adding that the bird is in pain.

“It could be a lot more active and a lot more bitey.”

The staff is trying to reduce its stress as much as possible, she said, including by adding mirrors to its room to help the pelican feel it has a companion.

“He actually spends most of his time next to the mirror, hanging out with his mirror friend. It’s actually really adorable.”

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rent-It Centre takes over curbside collection contract in Tofino and Ucluelet

Rent It Centre’s bid was $25,865 lower than the only other bidder, SonBird Refuse and Recycling.

Tofino’s first cannabis dispensary opens

“I don’t know where it’s going, but happy how it’s gone so far.”

Tofino welcomes much needed veterinarian to town

West Coast has not had a full-time vet since Dr. Jane Hunt surrendered her licence in 2004.

Looking back on the West Coast’s top 10 news stories

Tofino and Ucluelet’s top headlines of 2019.

Regional district looks at plans for Alberni Valley and West Coast landfills

Current plans were created in 2012 and require updating

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Oil and gas industry applauds Supreme Court’s dismissal of B.C. TMX case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Airliner crash a mistake that pleased Iran’s enemies: Supreme Leader Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader says dowining of Flight 752 was a bitter accident in rare sermon

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

VIDEO: Missing cat reunited with Vancouver Island family after three months

‘It was like one day she was there, the next day she was gone,’ said owner

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

Evidence disclosure at issue in the case of a woman sentenced for criminal negligence causing death

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

Most Read