Within the context of a limited number of Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) breeding sites, promoting new colonies can mitigate localized threats to regional populations. To assess the efficacy of short-distance (∼5 km) translocations and use of decoys to establish new colonies, and thereby increase statewide population viability, research was conducted within the Isles Dernieres archipelago, Louisiana. Translocations of 323 Brown Pelican chicks to an un-colonized island were performed from 2007 to 2009, and from 2008 to 2010, 108 Brown Pelican decoys were deployed on a separate island void of nesting. From 2008 to 2010 band re-sighting surveys detected only one transplanted Brown Pelican chick that returned to the release site. Further, < 1 % of translocated individuals were observed throughout the archipelago, compared to 5% and 9% of banded individuals encountered that fledged from nearby islands. Low detection of translocated Brown Pelicans may be due to translocation stress that can result in disorientation and social disorganization, which may promote increased roaming. At sites with decoys, no loafing or nesting Brown Pelicans were observed. Further, behavioral surveys suggest there was no difference in interest of passing Brown Pelicans to decoys compared to paired control survey areas without decoys. Despite past successes of translocations and decoys for establishing new colonies of Brown Pelicans and other waterbird species, Brown Pelican conservation may be best promoted via restoration and protection of current colony sites.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1