On April 16, an injured California brown pelican was captured by Long Beach Animal Control, just north of San Diego County. The bird had a severely lacerated pouch which was deliberately cut by a knife. Not only was part of the pouch cut off near the front of the bill, the laceration ran along the entire length of the pouch. The bird was taken in by International Bird Rescue in San Pedro for treatment. The bird’s pouch has been temporarily stapled together to allow it to eat. It will eventually have surgery to correct the injury.
California brown pelicans were once on the endangered species list, but have recently been removed. They are a common sight in southern California, mostly along the coast. A couple of years ago, many pelicans were seen far inland, including at Lake Murray were several spent the summer. Usually, that lake gets American white pelicans, which are seen more on freshwater, in the fall and winter. California brown pelicans were also seen as far away as southern California deserts at that time.
According to Jay Holcomb, Director of International Bird Rescue, brown pelicans are sometimes seen as a competitor for fisherman and continue to be mutilated or killed. “The truth is a pelican’s diet is mostly anchovies and sardines, fish that are used as bait by people who fish for sport.”
The International Bird Rescue originally offered at $2500 reward for arrest and conviction of the person responsible for what happened to this bird. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has brought up the reward to $5000 where it currently stands. Even though California brown pelicans are not endangered, it is against the law, possibly a felony, to harm any migratory bird. If you have information about this case, call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516. Donations to help with this bird’s care can be made to the International Bird Rescue on their website: http://www.bird-rescue.org/ .
Update: Reward has been upped to $20,000. The pelican, named "Pink" has undergone surgery and a long recovery is expected.