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Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Vero Beach

(170+ reviews on the web)
Wildlife Area
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located just off the western coast of Orchid Island in the Indian River Lagoon east of Sebastian, Florida. The refuge consists of a 3acre island that includes an additional 2.5acre of surrounding water and is located off the east coast of Florida of the Indian River Lagoon. Established by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt on March 14, 1903, Pelican Island was the first national wildlife refuge in the United States. It was created to protect egrets and other birds from extinction through plume hunting.Early historyPelican Island’s bird populations were threatened because of increased American settlement around the area in the mid-19th century. Many of the exotic birds were killed for their feathers, used in the fashion industry. Plumes from the birds were used to adorn ladies' hats of the day and at the time were worth more than their weight in gold.Paul Kroegel, a German immigrant, moved to Florida in 1881 and lived on the west bank of Indian River Lagoon. He was fascinated with the pelicans on the island. Being able to see the island from his home, Paul would watch the pelicans and other water birds. He eventually took an interest in the island and its protection. However, there was not any state or federal law to help him so he took control of the situation himself. Kroegel sailed to the island to stand guard and protect the birds and the island.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Didn't see anything that was advertised. Hard to get to and not what I would expect from the description.  more »
  • The roads are terrible, wash boarded so bad I turned my Jeep around and left, needs some serious attention!  more »
  • This relatively small National Wildlife Refuge, the first in the nation, is well worth the short drive north on Orchid Island from downtown Vero Beach. Both driving through and hiking through the refu...  more »
Google
  • Nice place to tour. Call ahead for reservations.
  • We drove through the reserve as one of my kids were sick. It's a nice, free preserve. I'm looking forward to exploring more with my kids. It can get quite hot so we will visit when it cools off a bit.
  • Free. The first National Wildlife Refuge. Very historic and well thought out good idea to list all of the national wildlife refuges on the boardwalk in order as it should be a great tourist attraction so I don't know why this is the first Google rating. Lots of nice trails. Volunteers there to answer any questions and explain the history.
  • Very scenic and quite
  • so peaceful