Pity the poor pelican. He has been through so many trevails that have taken his home away and threatened his life.
Now he could lose parts of the grandiose Louisiana Gulf Coast as his birthplace and nesting ground due to the British Petroleum oil spill south of Venice.
He was once deprived of his homeland because of DDT from farms sprayed in the midwest which floated down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The deadly poison did not kill him per se but it deprived his mates of the food component that hardened the shells of eggs they laid.
As a result, when they sat on them to help them hatch, they broke. And there was no pelican born.
Because of this tragedy, our state bird became extinct along the Louisiana coast.
Years later, after DDT was outlawed, we tried to start over and transplanted some from Florida to Grand Terre Island next to Grand Isle. They multiplied rapidly in that healthy atmosphere, hatched their eggs without a problem and soon took over Queen Bess Island north of Grand Terre from which they once again waved their spectacular wings as they patrolled our coast. Now one cannot visit our offshore islands without seeing them diving for food or flying along the beaches in all directions.
It is not expected that the oil spill will decimate them the way DDT did. But it will not help make life easier for these beloved specimens that enliven our coastal scenery so much.
But their feathers that are soaked with oil when they dive for food could cause hypothermia and drowning for some.
This plus the damage done to all of our fisheries requires that we do not let oil spills burden our environment in the future. We must find an answer that will give us 100 percent assurance that they will be a thing of the past.
Should state consider an oil tax?
If British Petroleum or the federal government do not support Louisiana in the restoration of our offshore islands to protect us against oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, it may be the state will have to find a way to tax oil companies for it.
The late Gov. Dave Treen once proposed a tax on the piping of oil through Louisiana. That failed.
Another means of taxation, perhaps could be devised that would fit the bill.
Gov. Bobby Jindal so far has failed in his efforts to get BP and the federal government to support our efforts to protect our coast. Maybe we have to take matters into our own hands.
And our own protection devices would probably be more effective than anything BP or the feds would provide.