Puntzi Lake residents reached out for help after three White American Pelicans hadn’t left the area to fly south yet. Ingrid Mychatyn photo

Biologists rescue endangered pelicans from B.C. Interior lake

American White Pelicans trio couldn’t migrate due to injuries

Three American White Pelicans rescued from the B.C. Interior are recuperating at Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. in Burnaby.

The pelicans were flown out of Williams Lake Thursday morning after three biologists from the Ministry of Forests successfully captured them on an island in Puntzi Lake about 185 kilometres west of Williams Lake on Tuesday.

Two of the pelicans had broken wings, said Sue Burton volunteer with Second Chance Animal Rescue Society out of Quesnel, who lives in Williams Lake.

“It is a mom and two young ones,” Burton said after she had dropped them off at the Williams Lake airport to fly out free of charge with Pacific Coastal.

“The mom and one of the young ones had broken wings and I guess the other one didn’t want leave without them. Who says animals don’t have feelings?”

Read more: Photos: Pelicans a regular sight on Nimpo Lake local resident says

Ingrid Mychatyn has lived at Puntzi Lake on and off since 1991 and reported the plight of the injured pelicans to Second Chance last Sunday.

“First I contacted an outfit up north and that wasn’t the right route to go and then I just stumbled on Second Chance and things really took off from there,” Mychatyn said.

Mychatyn noticed the pelicans on the island, which is about two kilometres away from her house, and the fact they weren’t flying away yet.

“They should have been long gone,” she said. “It was really tugging at my heart strings.”

White American Pelicans have traditionally nested at Stum Lake, but Mychatyn they started nesting at Puntzi Lake five years ago.

She first discovered them while kayaking with a friend.

“It was exciting news for us,” she recalled.

Read more: Pelican problems at Stum Lake

Emma Zinck, an outpatient care assistant and junior wildlife technician with the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. said Friday the fractured wing on one of the pelicans has been stablized with a wing wrap.

“We are currently working with a veterinarian to review their overall condition and determine what possible treatments or care is advised, as well as waiting for guidance from the province’s permitting officers,” Zinck told the Tribune. “In the meantime because the three pelicans are familiar with each other, we are housing them together to increase their comfort. All are eating well and resting comfortably.”

After the devastating Puntzi Lake fire in 2015, Mychatyn said the community wondered if the pelicans might not return, but they did, “no problem,” and the numbers have “exploded exponentially.”

“In the first year my girlfriend and I counted about 60 to 70 chicks and in the next year there were close to 200. It’s such a tiny island I worry they will run out of real estate.”

Mychatyn said since her husband died almost three years ago she lost interest in fishing so watching pelicans is a great diversion for her.

“When I am in my kayak they actually approach me within 50 or 60 feet. I tell them to ‘go away,’ because we are supposed to stay away from them.”

According to the B.C. Bird Atlas the American White Pelican is on the British Columbia Red List and is one of only three species listed as Endangered under the British Columbia Wildlife Act, due to its small, extremely localized, and vulnerable breeding population.

Foraging lakes used by the pelicans are protected under the British Columbia Park Act and the British Columbia Forest and Range Protection Act respectively.

Zinck said if members of the public are interested in helping, they can donate towards the care of the pelicans’ cost by visiting the Wildlife Rescue Association webiste at www.wildliferescue.ca or in person or by phone.



news@wltribune.com

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