One of the Largest Pelican Colonies in the Country - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

One of the Largest Pelican Colonies in the Country

Posted: Updated:
 By Alicia Ewen

Out here in the North Dakota prairie, life is quiet.

"Surprised to see anybody here." said Brian Gator a Medina Land Owner.

But if you look a little bit closer, you'll find one of the country's greatest natural phenomenas.

"We see a lot of people from out of state here and they're amazed at what goes on here out in the middle of no where but I guess as local guys I guess we take it for granted." said Gator.

On a small island in Chase Lake lives one of largest pelican colonies in the country.

Neil Shook works at the refuge everyday and says the sight isn't only beautiful....

"When they fly, it's like a ballet."said Shook.

It's a mystery...

"For 100 years these birds have been coming here. And for what? There's no food in the lake that's why these birds everyday they have to fly out to feed." said Shook.

Around 100 years ago, there were about 500 pelicans living here.

But it wasn't until the water levels rose, turning a peninsula into two separate islands that their population skyrocketed to say the least.
"30,000 pelicans on 15 acres." said Shook.

"It's basically 1/3 of the whole continental population lives here." said Shook.

And for presumably no reason at all.

"It's gotta be the scenery. It's the only logical explanation." said Shook.

But this larger than life family might not have a home for much longer.

"We're having an issue with the water rising. We just lost that little island, there's no pelicans nesting there right now."said Shook.

The same water that created this pelican paradise, might swallow it up whole.

"Last year the main island was 21 acres. This year it's 15. We lost 6 acres of nesting habitat."

If the water continues at this rate, it could be gone in as little as three years.

But according to the people around Chase there isn't much they can do.

Besides enjoy a once in a lifetime view.

"Watching them fly, watching them soar, they're an awesome bird."

Even though the island is shrinking, it hasn't stopped other birds from nesting on Chase Lake too.

According to the Wildlife Refuge there are now 50,000 total birds living on that tiny little island.


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