Environment

Highway troopers save impaled pelican, then detour traffic for wildlife expert

Florida Highway Patrol troopers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Owls Nest Sanctuary combined to rescue a pelican from the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Friday.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Owls Nest Sanctuary combined to rescue a pelican from the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Friday.

As wildlife rescuers, Kris Porter and Heather Davies of Owls Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife in Odessa know that if a animal being rescued is feisty it’s a good sign because it means their will to live is strong.

“Feisty” was the first thing that Davies and Porter both thought when their organization was called out to rescue a juvenile brown pelican ensnared by fishing line and impaled by fish hooks on the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge at 6 p.m. Friday.

“He was ticked at the world,” Porter said with a laugh Sunday when talking about the still — officially — unnamed pelican that her organization rescued.

“We generally never name them,” added Porter, the director of the sanctuary.

The injured bird, nonetheless, seems a perfect fit, based on Porter’s description of its personality, for the name “Feisty.”

First seen in apparent distress by a motorist, Feisty had fishing line wrapped tightly around his left wing and had fishing hooks in both legs, according to a news release from Florida Highway Patrol troopers who quickly drove to the bridge to help perform a rescue.

After the troopers contacted both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Owls Nest Sanctuary, they managed to reroute traffic around the injured bird while Davies was on her way to the bridge.

Davies jumped out of the Owls Nest Sanctuary rescue vehicle and put Feisty in a crate in her vehicle.

Soon after his arrival at Owls Nest, Feisty dined on three different types of fish and got medication for his wing, Porter said. But his wing was still swollen after two days, and Porter decided he needed some intense rest and relaxation.

Feisty was moved to Urban Wildlife in Clearwater where he probably will be released by the end of the week, Porter added.

“He’s on R and R in Clearwater with Rick Levi of Urban Wildlife,” Porter said.

Pelicans have an outer wing web and that web was swollen from the fishing line being wrapped around it, Porter said.

“The line cut off circulation on the left wing,” Porter said. “I didn’t like the swelling. It had been pinched badly. But I think he will be fine by the end of the week.”

Owls Nest Sanctuary rescues an amazingly high numbers of birds from the bridge after encounters with fishing tackle, according to Porter.

“We get calls on a daily basis,” Porter said. “These birds struggle to get out and sometimes they tug so hard that the line goes right through the skin. Sometimes they are not lucky. But he will be fine.”

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