Pelican nests at North Dakota refuge down due to high water

State News

Pelicans fly over and sit on man made rock revetment on Queen Bess Island in Barataria Bay, La., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. The island provides a crucial nesting ground for pelicans and other seabirds and is being restored to nearly its former size after decades of coastal erosion and the devastating blow of an offshore oil spill 10 years ago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The number of American white pelicans at a North Dakota wildlife refuge is down dramatically due to high water that has gobbled up much of their nesting grounds.

An aerial survey completed Friday showed about 14,200 birds nesting at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, or about half the number recorded two years ago.

Acting refuge manager Jeff Dion says heavy snow melt followed by a wet spring swamped much of the pelicans’ main nesting grounds.

The refuge normally draws thousands of tourists annually to see the birds but flooded roads have prevented access to viewing locations.

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