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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
  • Take the easy walk to the observation tower. I enjoyed the list of all the National Wildlife Refuges and their dates of formation.  more »
  • Was taken to this place by locals or I would not have found it. BUT WOW-If you love nature, you'll love this. ~4600 acres set aside for many environmental purposes and critters. Trails and bridges apl...  more »
  • My wife and I walked the refuge on Mother's Day 2017. The weather was clear and hot. We enjoyed the birds and the wildflowers and had a very pleasant experience.  more »
Google
  • Very well maintained and easy to access. Unfortunately, I couldn't get close enough to anything to photograph well (even with 600mm).
  • Nice place to tour. Call ahead for reservations.
  • Beautiful sunsets over the pond near the butterfly garden
  • 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.