Bird Allegedly Flying Under The Influence Crashes
June 23, 2006

A pelican that crashed head-on into a car windshield may have been flying while intoxicated on sea algae, and officials warned people Friday to be on the lookout for more unusual animal behavior.

The California Brown Pelican flew into a car windshield Thursday on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

It was in guarded condition with internal injuries at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, where a four-inch gash in its pouch was stitched up and its right toe was stabilized with a pin, according to Lisa Birkle, assistant wildlife director.

Wildlife officials said the bird may have been high on an algae in the ocean that could be reaching Orange County.

If the bird’s behavior was a result of eating the sea algae and subsequent Domoic Acid poisoning, which has affected seabirds and marine mammals the last two months, then more birds could be affected and people should be on the lookout for similar unusual behavior, Birkle said.

Symptoms range from general disorientation, acting “drunk” or just being in an unusual place, she said.

Any unusual behavior in pelicans should be reported to the wildlife center in Huntington Beach at (714) 374-5587, Birkle said.

Brown pelicans are an endangered species that are protected from hunters. But the government is seeking to “de-list” them from that status because they have made a comeback from their dwindled numbers caused by DDT poisoning years ago, Birkle said.

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