February 20, 2019

Pelican Trust

PETA has declared Arizona BPUF or “Brown Pelican UnFriendly.”

PETA in this case, stands for Pelican Enlightenment Trust Alliance, and the whole story started this way.

For some unknown reason, brown pelicans have started showing up in Arizona. Either they were blown off course by the monsoons, they were brought over as pets by migrating Californians and have since outsmarted their captives, or their California captors released them once the unpolluted air allowed a couple of brain cells to kick in and they realized that a brown pelican makes a pretty lousy pet.

My personal theory is that they, as well as I, are here to get in on the prime beachfront property that is going to be available when California falls into the Pacific Ocean.

The problem became apparent when these brown pelicans, after flying around for several hours looking for a patch of water, spotted what appeared to be a shimmering lake and came in for a landing. Soon after they had passed the point of no return in their commitment to land, they realized the shimmering lake was instead a hot blacktop parking lot, and lacking the aerobatic ability to abort the landing, bounced unceremoniously on their feathered butts and rolled butt over beak until they became tangled in the catalytic converter on the underside of an SUV.

None was seriously injured. A few required a feather restoring version of Rogaine, a liberal application of Preparation H, and they were as good as a new pelican can be.

PETA was not satisfied however, and immediately brought suit against Arizona for pelican cruelty. The great state of Arizona should do something to prevent said pelicans from blacktop-bouncing. Exactly what to do is unclear. It is not their job to propose a solution; their task in life is to point out the problem.

I am not a pelican expert, but I doubt that signs would do much good. Teaching a pelican to read is not high on the list of available grants for government research, and the few private institutions that tried have had the same success rate as trying to potty-train a chicken. Even the international version displaying a pelican in a red circle crossed by a diagonal line has been ignored. Besides, any pelican smart enough to understand a virgule would already know that it’s not a lake in Arizona unless there are a thousand boats lined up at the ramp.

Painting the parking lots has been ineffective as well. Regardless of the color or pattern, the shimmering lake-like effect is still there. The only truly successful effort has been covering the lot with artificial turf or indoor-outdoor carpeting. Either green or brown has worked well, but this approach did not sit well with the Skate-Boarders Benevolent Association (SBBA), not to be confused with Sore and Battered Butts Association.

Another idea that showed initial promise was spreading a layer of dirt over the parking lot. The major politicians of three cities were prepared to truck in tons of dirt until it was brought to their attention that this would defeat the “dust pollution solution” purpose of paving the lot in the first place. Not surprisingly, they also failed to notice that removing the blacktop would have exactly the same effect.

In the end, all this scurrying around was for nothing when the brown pelicans, without any help from us at all, decided that, as attractive as they were, our “lakes” were just a tad short on fish, and migrated to the closest fish taco stand. Once again, nature teaches us a valuable lesson.

What we really need is to start a local chapter of SPUFL, that’s the Society to Protect Us From Lunatics.

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