Spokesperson said there is no evidence suggesting a relation between the two species' deaths
By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is still investigating the deaths of more than 200 brown pelicans and 80 manatees in Brevard County, officials said.
As of Wednesday, March 20, the commission said it has received reports of more than 227 dead brown pelicans, ranging from Merritt Island to Melbourne. Record of the deaths began two months ago.
Also, the commission reported that 80 manatees have been found dead since July. The death of both animals is currently unknown.
Wendy Quigley, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the commission has not found any evidence suggesting the deaths of the two animals are related.
Researchers sent samples earlier this month to the National Wildlife Health Center for testing, including an additional set of samples sent two weeks prior to determine whether or not the cause of death is due to botulism.
Experts said Botulism is often the cause of deaths, such as what the brown pelicans have been experiencing.
However, Dan Wolf, a researcher for the FWC, said in a press release that Botulism generally kills its victims quickly. According to reports from the FWC, the brown pelicans have been found emaciated, which means extremely thin due to starvation or illness.
Botulism would leave little time for emaciation to occur, Mr. Wolf said in a press release.
"The pelicans are emaciated and have heavy parasite counts, and, to our knowledge, other bird species have not been affected," he said.
Ms. Quigley said researchers are not aware of a time when this many pelicans have been found dead.
The FWC urges the public to approach with caution when discovering dead birds or other animals.
If handling the animal yourself, experts said residents should always wear rubber gloves or insert his or her hands into a plastic bag. Place the bird in a plastic bag, tie the bag closed and then place it inside a second bag and tie it shut.
Residents who should report any dead pelicans online at MyFWC.com/Bird or by calling the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922.
For sick or injured birds, contact a local wildlife rehabilitative facility or call your local FWC office for names of rehabilitators in the area.