An Endangered Species List Success

Because of all the Brown Pelicans that you can see along the Texas coast you may not have known the bird has been on the Endangered Species List for almost four decades. That is about to change as Rod Rice reports.

The once abundant Brown Pelican was put on the Endangered Species List because it was one of the species that was decimated by the widespread use of the insecticide DDT and the loss of habitat.

"They numbered, by some estimates, as few as 12 breeding pairs or 24 birds to the point that now they are in the multiple thousands. Estimates are 12-to-15 thousand."

Bob Benson is the Executive Director of Audubon Texas.  He says a plan was fashioned in the early 70's to keep Brown Pelicans from becoming extinct.  And now after decades of state, federal and local collaborations U.S. Fish and Wildlife has said the Brown Pelican no longer needs to be on the list.

"There's actually a team dedicated specifically to that bird, and they've now sent it to the Federal Register for consideration for delisting and basically that means it's going to happen."

But there are still concerns. Benson says hurricanes can have a devastating impact on a species and the future growth of wind generated power also has the potential to be harmful to birding populations.  But concerns aside, the Endangered Species List has been a success for the Brown Pelican.

"The reality is we're starting to see the fruits of hard labor with the Bald Eagle, with the Brown Pelican and there are other species that are starting to improve as well—I'm excited by that aspect."

Audubon Texas is working to restore millions of acres of grasslands and thousands of acres of critical habitat along the Texas coast.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...