October 30, 2013 at 1:31 am #826MikeKeymaster
Posted on Tue, Jul. 12, 2005
A new Chase Lake mystery: Thousands of young pelicans die
The Associated Press
BISMARCK – The Fish and Wildlife Service says it is investigating
the deaths of thousands of young white pelicans the Chase Lake
National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota, a year after the
abrupt departure of thousands of adults.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ken Torkelson said at least 8,000 white
pelican chicks may have died.
He said this year differs from last year in that the adults left
after the young birds died.
“This is not a repeat of last year. The difference is, last year the
adults left first, leaving behind the chicks,” Torkelson said. “This
year, the young have died and the adults have no reason to stick
The agency said Tuesday that an inspection of the refuge last week
indicated only about 500 chicks left from a nesting period that
could have produced as many as 9,000 of them. The check also showed
about 2,000 adults remaining from a population estimated at 18,850
in late May, the agency said.
Samples have been sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in
Madison, Wis., to try to find out what killed the young birds.
Officials had hoped the refuge would return to normal after nearly
30,000 pelicans abruptly left last year. The check in late May
indicated the pelicans had returned, but officials still could not
pinpoint what caused last year’s exodus.
“We hoped a return to normalcy at Chase Lake this year would have
given us more time to study it,” Torkelson said. “Unfortunately,
this year’s high chick mortality may complicate that investigation.”
The white pelican colony at the 4,385-acre Chase Lake National
Wildlife Refuge has been the largest in North America, peaking at
35,466 birds in 2000.
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