Pelicans released back into wild - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Pelicans released back into wild

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MIAMI (WSVN) -- Several pelicans took flight back into nature after being nursed to health.

"It is a big day. It's a beautiful day," said South Florida Wildlife Center Dr. Renata Schneider.

One at a time four brown pelicans took their first steps back into the wild at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, Tuesday morning.

"Well for us it's our full-time job. It's our reason for being, so it's the most important thing that we can do for wildlife out there," said Schneider.

Each one of these birds are a success story for the South Florida Wildlife Center where vets and animal rescuers nursed them back to health, but one in particular is no stranger to the spotlight.

From the looks of him flapping his wings you would never know that just a few months ago he was in really rough shape. "Basically there was a large tear to the right wing. It actually created a hole in the right wing that we had to stitch together and use physical therapy over time to get the extension back to where he could fly again," said Schneider.

It took months of painstaking work but the people in the operating room readily admit this pelican really owes his life to a group of good-hearted college students. "We just saw kinda this pelican hanging from a tree and it was the saddest thing I had seen in a while," said Schreiber.

Greg Schreiber and some friends were hanging out along the Intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale back in January when they came across the disturbing site. The pelican was tangled on a fishing line and stuck in the tree. The line then snapped and sent the bird plummeting 70-feet into the water. The students immediately jumped in to save the bird.

Cell phone cameras were rolling as a wildlife officer performed field surgery in the dark before taking him in for more intensive treatment. Animal experts say incidents like this can be avoided. "Most of these injuries are caused by human activity, so any animal that we can fix and restore and return them back to nature we are doing a service because of the disservice that we do to wildlife in South Florida." said Schneider.

A blue band was used to temporarily identify the bird with the harrowing back story. The animal rescuers said it will soon disintegrate and won't cause him any harm.

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