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Nearly 50 Brown Pelicans Killed on Highway 48

Some of the dead pelicans seen on the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 16 along Texas Highway 48. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

While people were kind of enjoying this past week’s cold temperatures after days of extreme heat and high humidity, some of the area wildlife were not.

Dozens of brown pelicans fell prey to Monday’s drop in the thermometer and died as a consequence of that.

Once on the verge of being put on the endangered species list, nearly 50 of these funny yet beautiful looking birds were killed by motorists along Texas Highway 48.

Apparently these large birds headed to roost at Bahia Grande wildlife reserve and either flew or landed on or off both sides of the Joseph “Joe” Gayman Bridge.

The pelicans flew into a northwest wind during a heavy fog, got disoriented and got run over by passing vehicles.

Lianne Koczuk, a researcher and a pelican admirer with Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, said it was unfortunate for these pelicans to die like that.
The institute has a contract with the Texas Department of Transportation to handle such situations.

”Slow down!” was the only advice she could give as she and another person were counting and taking samples from some of the birds on Tuesday afternoon. “Slow down, particularly whenever there is cold weather like this one.”

Koczuk said she and about a half dozen others went to the site late Monday afternoon and counted more than 40 dead pelicans and also rescued more than 20 birds.

This past weeks pelicans kill was the third one since last December and the biggest one since then on the same spot where the legal speed limit is 75 miles per hour.

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