Archive for June 11th, 2015

Conservation Hero: Bessie Cornelius

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
"Miss Bessie" Cornelius

“Miss Bessie” Cornelius. Image courtesy

This is Passport to Texas

When she was alive, Bessie Cornelius was an avid birder and staunch conservationist. During an interview with Ms. Cornelius in 1999, she recalled a time when the endangered Brown Pelican was an abundant species along the Gulf Coast.

41-When we first came in fifty-six, you could see the pelicans all lined up on the pilings, right there at the ferry. You could just go anyplace and see them. There were a lot of brown pelicans. They were using DDT then, and before that was banned, brown pelicans began to disappear. And the reason for that, they learned later, was that DDT eventually ran off from the farms into the streams, and streams into the gulf. And the shells of their eggs were very thin and the birds would be killed, you know, before they could hatch.

Cooperation between individuals like Ms. Cornelius, conservation organizations, and government, led to protections being enacted for the Brown Pelican.

During her lifetime Ms. Cornelius helped preserve important bird sanctuaries in the state.

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For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.