CAMERON, LA (KPLC) - Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services released rehabilitated pelicans from the oil spill in Cameron Parish on Thursday morning.
The Louisiana Coast Guard, L.W.F.D., U.S.F.W.S., and the Hammond Wildlife Rehabilitation Center participated in the pelican release through transporting their cages by boat to the Rabbit Island.
Upon arrival the agencies opened the cages and released a total of 15 pelicans out into the wild.
This group of pelicans are only part of more than 200 pelicans that have been in rehabilitation since the oil spill.
LWFD officials said southwest Louisiana is a safe area to release the pelicans because the oil spill affect is small in this area and the oil has now been capped.
"We wanted the birds to live very closely to where they were raised," said Mike Carloss, Biologist Director for LWFD. "We want to try and establish these young birds and keep them in the state."
According to officials these pelicans have come along way in rehabilitation, as many of the birds are spreading their wings for the first time.
"A lot of them when they were caught they were not flying," said Carloss. "Since they've been rehabilitated they can now fly."
While pelican rehabilitation has come a long way, officials say they still have a long way to go when it comes to recovery.
"We have lots of work yet to do here," said Rhonda Murgatroyd, Wildlife Operations Section Chief for the Deepwater Horizon incident. "Right now we are still looking at some of the marshes and we may end up finding more of those animals that we weren't able to previously get to."
But for now the crews are embracing the Louisiana pride that flies through the wings of the rehabilitated pelicans.
"People associate very closely with pelicans," said Carloss. "They're held dear to the heart I think."
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has also released the rehabilitated pelicans off the coasts of Texas, Florida, and Georgia.