There are 850 million acres protected in the National Wildlife Refuge System, including 20.6 million acres of dedicated wilderness. Pelican Island NWR consists of 5400 acres and 3 islands in the Indian River Lagoon. Migratory birds use the site, especially the brown and white pelicans, and hundreds of birds can be seen from fall to spring.
“In Florida, in an effort to control plume hunting, the American Ornithologists Union and the National Association of Audubon Societies (now the National Audubon Society) persuaded the State Legislature to pass a model non-game bird protection law in 1901. These organizations then employed wardens to protect rookeries, in effect establishing colonial bird sanctuaries.
Such public concern, combined with the conservation-minded President Roosevelt, resulted in the initial Federal land specifically set aside for a non-marketable form of wildlife (the brown pelican) when 3-acre Pelican Island was proclaimed a Federal Bird Reservation in l903. Thus, it is said to be the first bona fide “refuge.” The first warden employed by the government at Pelican Island, Paul Kroegel, was an Audubon warden whose salary was $1 a month. “
From: A Short History of the Refuge System, 1864 – 1920 (by Rachel Carlson), <https://www.fws.gov/refuges/history/> accessed 9 March 2020.
Photographs Copyright (C) Davey42mir 2019.