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

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

A donated towel warms a merlin chick. Photo supplied
MARS Moment: 2021 shaping up to be a record-setting year for animal rescues

Submitted by Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press With the pandemic,… Continue reading

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

File photo of Gord Johns during World Oceans Day.
Courtenay-Alberni MP outlines priorities for federal budget

Universal pharmacare, affordable housing and Pacific wild salmon are some of the… Continue reading

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Volunteers sort through bottles and cans during Saturday's fundraiser for hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley hospice holds drive-through bottle drive

Bike team is fundraising for the annual Cycle of Life tour on Vancouver Island

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as executive vp academic and chief operating officer. Photo supplied
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

North Island College’s new president, Lisa Domae, kicked off her first official… Continue reading

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read