Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Vero Beach

4.2
#3 of 18 in Parks in Vero Beach
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.
Pelican 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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Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
225 reviews
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  • Fun place to visit for a relaxing day out at the ocean, either alone or with friends and family. So beachey and Florida. Ocean can be rough so be careful with kids. I would not bring a pet, too...  more »
  • This was a place very hard to find even with SATNAV! Well worth the visit but get good directions. Take bug spray during the season too  more »

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