Concerned citizens attempt to rescue injured pelicans in Green Bay

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 3:22 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A handful of pelicans, injured and stranded at the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay, face near certain death over the winter months.

Today a group of concerned citizens attempted to rescue them so they can be rehabilitated.

Two weeks ago, Anastasia Lee Johnson came across the sad discovery near the Green Bay Metro Boat Launch.

“I’m a pretty big nature junkie, go for walks a lot and my mother and I were here and basically we looked out over the water and we saw a bunch of injured birds,” says Johnson.

Confined to the last little area of unfrozen water where the Fox River meets the Bay of Green Bay, swam five injured or sick pelicans.

Johnson immediately called the Bay Beach Wildlife Center and the Raptor Education Group in Antigo.

“Basically there was very little they could do because REGI only has three interns over the winter months and Bay Beach doesn’t have the resources to do anything for water rescues unfortunately,” says Johnson.

Over the last two weeks, Johnson has checked on the birds daily, sometimes feeding them fish.

She also sent out a plea for help.

“These injuries seem more like caused by people and so it was more heartbreaking in that sense and for that reason I kind of felt we had to do something about it. I sent about 100 emails and here we are,” says Johnson.

Sadly, the group of about ten people finds one of the pelicans died overnight, and the clock is ticking for the others that should have migrated south in October.

“They’d die, so see if we can fix them, catch them and fix them,” says John Kraak, a citizen who volunteered to help.

Kraak leads the rescue attempt.

Using bait tied to a rope, he’s able to coax one pelican close enough to net it, but the others disperse.

One eventually is lured back into the open water but won’t come near the bait.

In a wet suit, Kraak jumps into the water attempting to net the bird, but to no avail.

“We are attempting to catch the one that is most injured and it’s proving to be quite the challenge,” says Johnson.

Tonight the captured pelican is on its way to rehab at the Raptor Education Group.

The rescuers plan to be back on Sunday with a new plan of action in hopes of capturing the others.

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