Light at the end of the tunnel; wildlife group looking to reunite ‘Peli’ the pelican with flock

Peli the endangered American White Pelican is on the mend in Burnaby after becoming injured by a fishing line hook in Oliver, last year. (Supplied)
Peli the endangered American White Pelican is on the mend in Burnaby after becoming injured by a fishing line hook in Oliver, last year. (Supplied)
Peli the endangered American White Pelican is on the mend in Burnaby after becoming injured by a fishing line hook in Oliver, last year. (Supplied)

A wildlife group is hoping to reunite a lone pelican with his flock after almost six months apart.

Since October 16, 2019, an endangered American White Pelican by the name of ‘Peli’ has been on the mend in Burnaby, B.C. after becoming injured by a fishing line on the shores of a lake near Oliver.

This occurred while Peli and his family were migrating south for winter, towards warmer climates. After he was injured, his flock departed and left him alone. He has since been recovering from an injury and infection to his left wing.

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

Peli’s injuries have since healed, however antibiotics and physiotherapy are still needed to help continue his healing. The wildlife group caring for him is hoping to raise enough funds to upgrade their aquatic centre so Peli can practice flying again.

“The goal is to re-join him with his flock when they do return to the breeding grounds in Williams Lake,” said Wildlife Rescue Association of BC communications coordinator, Vindi Sekhon.

Biologists are monitoring the breeding grounds for when his flock returns, which they anticipate will be in the spring.

In the meantime, veterinarians and wildlife technicians are focused on ensuring that Peli is in a proper state to be released.

This is the first time the group has had to keep an animal for such an extended period of time. This served as an especially unique situation for the team as they were not equipped to care for an animal, throughout the winter, which was used to temperatures of that in Mexico and California.

The team recently acquired an indoor heated pool, which helps animals like Peli recover and stay strong.

“What we’re trying to do is, we don’t want to habituate Peli because he has had an extended stay with us,” said Sekhon.

To help achieve this the group is keeping minimal contact with the bird while ensuring he continues to recover.

On Tuesday morning (March 3) the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC launched a campaign in commemoration of World Wildlife Day. For five days the campaign will help promote Peli’s story, in the hopes it will help return him to his flock.

So far the campaign has reached two per cent of its $48,000 goal, money they hope to receive in order to upgrade the aquatics centre to give Peli room to dive, bath and exercise his flight.

To learn more and donate to the cause, visit the fundraising website here.

The group says this will help ensure he is released in the right condition.

“We don’t want to return and rejoin Peli back with his flock if he’s not adapted to that natural environment again,” Sekhon explained. “That’s always our goal at the end of the day.”

Having an endangered pelican in their care centre, Sekhon said has been an amazing experience for them. However it has encouraged them to evolve and retrofit their facility in order to help endangered species like these recover.

She furthered that the group has received some questions from the public as to why they didn’t already transport Peli south and return him with his flock. To this, she said it’s a complicated process, especially when the animal is injured.

“The permits (to cross the border) state that the species need to pass the health check… we weren’t really left with a choice; there was no way that we could have rejoined Peli with his flock… because his injuries were so severe.”

The wildlife group says this injury sustained by Peli shows the potential risk of human interference and disturbance.

“It was a fishing line hook; it is a topic on its own, but also it just shows the impact that as humans we can have when we are sharing space with species,” Sekhon said.

She said World Wildlife Day serves as a time to remember this.

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

To learn more about the Wildlife Rescue Association click here.

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

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