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The brown pelican was taken off the federal endangered species list last week after 30 years of protected status.
By Jessica Lussenhop
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had some felicitous news concerning our fine-feathered friend the brown pelican, once again a common sight along our local shores. Apparently, like a B-list celebrity at a trendy Hollywood nightclub, the pelican is off the list--that is, it's been removed from the endangered species list after a healthy population rebound over the last 30 years.
The pelican was already headed for trouble back when its feathers were fancied for ladies' hats, but as milliners entered their own extinction, the pesticide DDT more than made up the difference by weakening the birds' shells, and pelican numbers plummeted in the 1960s and '70s. At its lowest, the population was estimated at 1,000 breeding pairs. The 1972 ban on DDT was the first step in turning things around, and as of 2006 there were more than 11,695 breeding pairs in Southern California and an estimated 650,000 pelicans living worldwide. But being "delisted" doesn't mean the pelican is in the clear. Representatives from Fish and Wildlife warn the birds' habitat is now threatened by rising seas and erosion.
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