$5,000 reward offered in case of pelican mutilation

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This April 18, 2014 photo provided by International Bird Rescue shows a California brown pelican which was found with its pouch slashed on April 16, 2014 near Bayshore Park in Long Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/International Bird Rescue)

This April 18, 2014 photo provided by International Bird Rescue shows a California brown pelican which was found with its pouch slashed on April 16, 2014 near Bayshore Park in Long Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/International Bird Rescue)

SAN PEDRO (CNS) – A $5,000 reward was on offer today for information leading to the capture of whoever mutilated a California brown pelican, slitting its jaw pouch, preventing the bird from eating.

Long Beach animal control officers found the pelican in the 5400 block of Ocean Boulevard near Bayshore Park April 16, according to officials at the International Bird Rescue center in San Pedro. Pending surgery to stitch up the pouch, the slit has been stapled shut to enable the bird to feed itself.

“Pelicans are of no threat to anyone, yet they continue to be mutilated and even killed by people who see them as competition for fish,” IBR director Jay Holcomb said. “The truth is, a pelican’s diet is mostly anchovies and sardines, fish that are used as bait by people who fish for sport.”

Holcomb told the Daily Breeze the pelican’s chance of fully recovering was about “50-50.” It apparently had not been able to eat for some time because pelicans dive on their prey and scoop up fish in their pouches, he told the newspaper.

California brown pelicans were recently removed from the endangered species list but remain a threatened species.

The IBR initially announced a $2,500 reward for information leading to the person who attacked the pelican. The Animal Legal Defense Fund later doubled the reward to $5,000.

Officials with International Bird Rescue, Long Beach Animal Control and U.S. Fish and Wildlife will hold a news conference in San Pedro late this morning to discuss the mutilation and promote the reward.

Anyone with information on who may have harmed the pelican was asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (310) 328-1516.

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