There is only one known breeding colony of American White Pelicans in the NWT—which means a single threatening event could negatively impact all the pelicans in the NWT. This is a key reason why they were assessed as a species at risk in the NWT. The main threats are diseases, disturbance by humans, climate change and flooding, and predators.
Pelicans are susceptible to disease outbreaks because many birds live together in the colony. Contagious diseases such as avian botulism and West Nile virus have been known to cause pelican mortalities and occasionally die-offs at colonies elsewhere. These diseases have not been documented in the NWT.
Humans can disturb pelicans by using boats and low-flying aircraft too close to nests. Adult pelicans might leave their nests and eggs if they are disturbed, sometimes never coming back to their colony.
Flooding and extreme weather events can impact nesting success and survival of chicks. Pelicans in the NWT could be affected by more variable weather and water levels due to climate change.
Predators of pelicans in the NWT may include foxes, coyotes, wolves, eagles, ravens and gulls. Colonies are especially vulnerable when low water levels make it easier for predators to reach the nesting islands, or when eggs and chicks are left unattended because of human disturbance.