ROCKPORT, Texas — Two U.S. Coast Guard cargo planes brought 62 brown pelicans to Texas on Wednesday for the largest release to date of pelicans rehabilitated after being contaminated in BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The pelicans arrived at the Aransas County Airport and were expected to be released after a short drive to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, about 175 miles south of Houston, U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Nancy Brown said.
Officials released 38 brown pelicans at the refuge Sunday. The increasing numbers indicate "we're starting to see success in our rehabilitation," Brown said. A Northern Gannet, another seabird, was also expected to be released Wednesday.
The refuge was chosen because it has the coastal habitat the pelicans need and was already home to a population of brown pelicans, she said.
There is no guarantee that the new pelicans will stay put. They could fly back to Louisiana or take up residence elsewhere on the Texas coast.
Oil-drenched pelicans had become one of the iconic images of the BP spill. The deep-sea well has released from 67 million to 127 million gallons of oil since an explosion killed 11 people on the rig April 20.
© 2010 The Associated Press
June 23, 2010, 11:21AM
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