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      Nature Report: Pelican Recovery

      It would be sad to contemplate a trip to the coast and not being able to enjoy the beauty of brown pelicans gracefully skimming the surf at sunrise.

      Today, any trip to South Padre Island or the Lower Laguna Madre is enhanced by the presence of brown pelicans, but by the late 1960's brown pelicans were almost extinct in Texas, and in 1970 were placed on the federal endangered species list.

      The harmful pesticide DDT's widespread use beginning in the 1940's led to egg shell thinning in pelicans and other top of the food chain birds, and by the late 1960's less than 100 pelicans remained on the Texas coast with virtually no successful nesting.

      With the banning of DDT use in the United States in 1972 brown pelicans began a slow recovery and in 2009 were taken off the endangered species list.

      Their numbers have now increased to more than 12,000 breeding pairs along the Gulf coast.

      While the vast majority of brown pelicans nest on the middle Texas coast, Audubon warden Leroy Overstreet recently discovered several nests on a remote island in the Lower Laguna Madre.

      With the threat of oil spills, sprawling wind turbine development and habitat destruction it is vital for the continued recovery of brown pelicans to expand their nesting range to their historic nesting grounds in the Lower Laguna Madre.