Pelican Population Abounds in Parts of North Dakota - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Pelican Population Abounds in Parts of North Dakota

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At some points in time, a small island in a North Dakota lake holds more pelicans than anywhere else in the world.

Fish and Wildlife biologists say there's a healthy population of the large birds and their babies so far this summer.

Welcome to Medina, the small town with big amounts of air traffic.

"They're such a huge bird, their wingspan can be nine feet, and yet they're so graceful when they fly." says Neil Shook, Refuge Manager.

"My favorite time of year is spring, when they first return that time of year, there's a lot of activity and I love to see the pelicans return to the prairie." says Alisa Bartos, Biological Science Technician.

They're flying around looking for food that they take back to a small island where they're nesting.

"Right now I'm just looking at where are the birds, has it changed at all, are they at the same spot they were last week..." says Alisa Bartos, Biological Science Technician.

Alisa Bartos has been monitoring the population of birds and their behavior patterns.

"They manage to fly in, find their chick and feed their chick only, we assume, to me that's amazing that they could find their offspring on that island." says Bartos.

Along with the adult pelicans there are the baby chicks and other breeds of birds to take into account, overall there is an estimated 60,000 some birds on an island that's only around 20 acres.

"People take a stake in Chase Lake refuge, they take a stake in these pelicans..." says Neil Shook.

Neil Shook is the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge manager.

It's been somewhat of a pelican safe haven since the early 1900s.

"You have all these birds, the pelicans the egrets flying overhead, it's incredible." says Shook.

"I don't think if you have an interest in wildlife or science or the natural world that you would get bored at Chase Lake." says Bartos.

Although people who live around this community might be used to all of the birds, experts in the field say a healthy population of pelicans is a great thing to see.

"I think it's people's heritage, I think that they have ownership on these birds, they care about what happens to them, it does mean something to them, it is what Medina is, stands for, American White pelican." says Alisa Bartos.

If you want to take a closer look at the refuge you should contact the Fish and Wildlife agency--and get a permit.

They want to keep disturbance to the birds to a minimum.

The majority of the pelicans will be here until October, when they usually migrate down to the Gulf of Mexico.

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