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

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Another snowstorm expected for Terrace and Kitimat area

Wind is expected up to 80 km per hour

Don’t do anything hasty!

Kitimat sees a huge jump in property assessment values

Kitimat man gets 18 months for sexual touching and possession of child porn

Bradley Scott Sears appeared before court in Terrace after pleading guilty

Northern B.C. cities break temperature records amid cold snap

Quesnel dipped to -41.9 C, breaking a record from 1916

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read