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Mystery: over 200 pelicans have washed up dead on North Carolina beach

Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:19
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(Before It's News)

Over 200 Pelicans Wash Up Dead at Topsail Beach, NC – Preliminary Necropsies Inconclusive

Preliminary necropsies by the University of Georgia on some of the more than 200 Brown Pelicans that have washed up on the shores of Topsail Beach on the coast of southeastern North Carolina are inconclusive and do not yet support concerns that foul play was responsible. Complete toxicology and pathology reports are expected to be available soon.

A taskforce including officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as state officials, has been formed and has been meeting to investigate the deaths, but so far has not determined a cause. The first dead birds began washing up on shore in November.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican © Mike Richardson, from the surfbirds galleries.

January 26, 2011

“Mass bird deaths such as this are certainly troubling and need to be investigated, but they are not especially rare. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 160 mass wildlife death events are recorded in the U.S. each year. Sometimes they are weather related and sometimes they are caused by pollution, parasites or diseases, but they frequently have a human component,” said Dr. Moira McKernan, Director of the Bird Pesticide Program with American Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.

“What is far more significant is the number of bird deaths that go unreported or unrecorded each year because they each occur in smaller numbers and do not command media attention. These include deaths from pesticides and other toxins such as lead from spent ammunition, collisions with communication towers, buildings, or wind turbines, and free-roaming cats. Their cumulative impact, however, is significant, and may total more than one and a half billion birds each year,” said Dr. McKernan.

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