KEY POINTS

  • A wildlife organization believes that "someone or some people" are behind the attacks
  • Conservationists offer a reward for information that would lead to the arrest of the attackers 
  • An appeal for public support has been made for complete rehabilitation of the birds 

More than 30 brown pelicans were attacked and mutilated off the shores of Southern California, a wildlife organization said. Many of them had twisted bones and fractured wings that required surgical treatment.

According to Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, only 10 of the injured pelicans survived the attacks. The wildlife conservationists appealed for help to find “someone, or some people” behind the brutal attacks.

Debbie McGuire, executive director of Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, said that she could not imagine the pain the birds had to endure as she and a veterinarian fought off tears while preparing for a surgical operation on an injured brown pelican who was screeching in pain.

“This is so bad,” McGuire was quoted as saying by the New York Times. “We need the public’s help to stop this. If you see something, say something.”

She told USA Today that a $500 reward is being offered by the center for any information that would lead to the arrest of the attackers.

McGuire said 22 of the injured pelicans suffered compound fractures to their wings.

“This isn’t something you can hide. The type of damage that’s happening with these pelicans, someone is brutally hurting these animals,” Debbie Wayns, Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center’s operations manager, told the New York Times.

The organization has urged people to donate to help pay for surgeries and care for the injured pelicans. According to McGuire, surgery can cost roughly $5,000 and thousands more in rehabilitation.

The center’s veterinarian, Elizabeth Wood, said these “serious injuries require emergency surgeries and long term care."

McGuire said that this is not the first time they have seen brutal attacks on the pelicans. In 2008, 11 pelicans were found with twisted wings at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Only one of them survived the attacks. Similarly, in 2020, four pelicans were found with slashed throats in Marina del Rey and Ventura Harbor.

The brown pelican was declared as an endangered species in 1970, according to the National Park Service.

In a previous study, scientists discovered that the thinning population of the birds was due to the pesticide DDT which was affecting their reproductive capabilities. The pesticide was subsequently banned following the study and conservation efforts were made to save the brown pelicans from extinction.

The conservation efforts were successful and the population of the brown pelicans was declared “stable.” According to the National Park Service, it is unlawful to harm a brown pelican as it is protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

In this file photo taken on June 08, 2010, veterinarians clean an oil-covered brown pelican found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP In this file photo taken on June 08, 2010, veterinarians clean an oil-covered brown pelican found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP Photo: AFP / Saul LOEB