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Pelicans nesting at ND refuge a near record

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says American white pelicans are nesting at a south central North Dakota refuge in near-record numbers.

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge Manager Neil Shook says an aerial count shows 31,534 breeding adults. Last year, about 10,000 fewer pelicans were counted. A record 35,466 birds were counted in 2000.

Shook says the number of pelicans has been rebounding in the past few years, after mysterious die-offs and departures that baffled biologists.

Shook says pelicans at Chase Lake also are being joined by an increasing number of new neighbors. He says hundreds of herons, egrets and gulls are now nesting among the pelicans.