Published: May 20, 2010 9:22 PM EDT
Updated: May 20, 2010 9:22 PM EDT

BRETON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, La. (AP) - Managers of a renowned bird sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico say they have found their first dead pelican.

Breton National Wildlife Refuge, about eight miles from the Louisiana coast, had been fortunate so far in avoiding the worst of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Then on Thursday morning, workers found a young brown pelican on a sand spit with its neck and one wing matted in oil.

Refuge biologist James Harris says the pelican was likely killed by the oil. An estimated 4,500 pelicans and tens of thousands of terns nest on the dozens of islands that make up the sanctuary. Harris says with each passing day the refuge is "pushing the envelope" in avoiding disaster.