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Caught on camera: Fisherman pets, kisses pelican

Posted: 7:37 PM, Jan 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-19 03:37:06Z
OCEAN BEACH -- A fisherman in Ocean Beach got up close and personal with a pelican, and video of the encounter is circulating online.
 
Cell phone video captured the man showing some love to the pelican. Oddly, enough it didn't seem to ruffle the bird’s feathers.
 
"He's just gently petting the pelican's neck," Mike Stenger said.
 
Mike Stenger was in disbelief and whipped out his phone to record the close up encounter.
 
Stenger says the fisherman told him he comes out to the pier to pet the bird often and that the pelican recognizes him each time.
 
“He's like 'hey watch this,’ and so I automatically think he's gonna get bit or something and he just starts petting the pelican and loving on it and it loves him back, and I've never seen anything like it before,” Stenger said.
 
10News went to the pier in search of the fisherman, but he must have chickened out on Monday because there was no sign of him.
 
A pelican which looks similar to the one in the video and attracted a crowd of people.
 
“That's so cool, I want to try touching him,” one spectator said.
 
One woman decided to try and pet the pelican too, but he flew the coop.
 
The video has gotten hundreds of views and Facebook comments from Ocean Beach residents.
 
One woman writes "that's Clyde!! He's a super friendly pelican. He waits around to be fed."
 
A spokesperson from the department of fish and wildlife says it's not necessarily illegal to touch pelicans, but encourages people to enjoy them from a safe distance.
 
Although captivated by the encounter, Stenger says petting wildlife, is for the birds.
 
“I just let them do their thing, I'll do my thing and I think that's a good relationship to have,” he said.
 
Experts say touching wild animals can be dangerous if they're ill or carry parasites. 
 
Wildlife that becomes too comfortable around humans have a tough time surviving on their own.