The Friends of Lake Manawa received questions and concerns about the potential impact of pelicans on the Lake Manawa fishery, so we asked Bryan Hayes, the Fisheries Biologist for the DNR who manages our lake, here is his response:

“White pelicans migrate through Iowa every year on the way to nesting locations to the north. Their diet is primary fish. They are part of the food web/nature. The exact impact on local fish populations is unknown. Question about pelican impacts on fish populations are not unique to Lake Manawa.

On an annual basis the DNR monitors the fish population at Manawa. By the numbers gizzard shad out numbered the game fish (crappies, bass, walleye, wipers) by far. There was a big shad hatch last year. Shad are the most available fish for the pelicans. Not to say they don’t eat some game fish. They are opportunistic. White pelicans are federally protected migratory birds.”

He provided a similar response last year when we reported our membership’s concern about the “midnight raids” by pelicans in the canals.