Heck Haven needs fish to feed pelicans

Heck Haven needs fish to feed pelicans

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It comes as no surprise to hear the recent storms that have impacted Southwest Louisiana threw off the balance in our ecosystem.

Now, those changes are hurting an important bird here in the Pelican State.

Suzy Heck has been running Heck Haven, a wildlife rehabilitation center,  for around 30 years.

She takes in over 1,000 injured or orphaned wild animals a year.

Heck Haven also provides care and medical treatment before releasing the animals back into the wild on protected reserves.

"I'll have four or five pelicans in the morning I go out and feed and I get out here and I might have 12 on the fence line waiting for food and I'll be like 'oops got to go get more fish,' " said Heck.

Heck is facing a dilemma…she needs fish.

There have been more pelicans than usual stopping by because they can't find fish in the wild.

"If they don't see the scales under the water, they won't dive and if they don't dive, even though the fish might be very close to the surface, they'll starve to death," said Heck.

Heck says the ecosystem has been shaken up because of all the recent storms. Saltwater has been moving its way up into the rivers and bayous and freshwater has been coming down from up north, forcing the fish down deeper and out of reach for seabirds like the Pelican.

"The fish aren't as plentiful like they normally are and so were really down on fish," said Heck.

The pelicans also haven't migrated because it hasn't gotten cold enough in recent years.

"We haven't had a winter," said Heck. "We haven't had those cold snaps for them to say 'hey, it's time to migrate and go home,' so we've got a lot more."

Heck says she will take any kind and size of fish, under a foot-and-a-half long, besides catfish. She'll even take the carcasses after the fish have been filleted, as well as fillets that have some freezer burn or are getting a bit old.

"We're losing the wildlife and if they go, we're not far behind," said Heck.

You can drop off any fish donations at Heck Haven. Just make sure the bucket is visible if no one is there to receive it.

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