Stewardship Overview: Management concerns in the United States historically focused on environmental contaminants. Environmental contaminants, particularly DDT and its metabolites, were the most important factors threatening the continued existence of brown pelicans in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the banning of DDT in 1972 and regulation of the use and disposal of other organochlorines, pelicans have rebounded to historical levels or are increasing. In the past, potential conflicts with commercial fishing were an important factor affecting recovery potential (e.g., California populations). At present, however, exploitation of selected fisheries (e.g., anchovies) is not economically viable (D.W. Anderson, pers. comm.). Threats to essential habitats, human disturbance, and the need for continued population monitoring are molding current recovery and management efforts.
Species Impact: As many other colonial birds, pelicans can cause vegetation defoliation or death as excrement builds up over time, assuming the site does not have "flushing or cleansing" attributes (e.g., mangrove islet). Despite the apparent damage of these sites, though, they should be afforded protection because pelicans tend to re-use traditional or old sites (Schreiber and Schreiber 1982).