Researchers say 300-400 pelicans oiled in Louisiana’s largest pelican nesting ground

By Matthew Brown, AP
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oil hits Louisiana’s largest pelican nesting area

NEW ORLEANS — Biologists say oil has smeared at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns in the largest seabird nesting area on the Louisiana coast — marking a sharp and sudden increase in wildlife damage from BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Biologist Marc Dantzker said Wednesday that a team from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology spotted the oiled birds on Raccoon Island in Terrebonne Parish. An estimated 10,000 birds nest on the island.

The colony was established by the state in the 1980s. Its success had epitomized restoration efforts that got brown pelicans taken off the endangered species list last year.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Lisa Williams says state and federal observers have seen only 68 pelicans with oil on the island.

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