A California nonprofit group is urging the public to remain vigilant for an alleged animal abuser.
According to the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center, 32 brown pelicans were found mutilated, with 22 suffering “compound fractures to their wings.”
“These are very serious injuries that require emergency surgeries and long term care,” Dr. Elizabeth Wood said in the center’s website post on June 16.
In March, lifeguards along the Orange County coastline found the birds and brought them to the care center, according to The New York Times.
The coastal birds were found with mutilated, intentionally broken wings, which cost thousands for specialists to remedy, the Times reported.
“It was just wrong on every level,” said Debbie Wayns, the center’s operations manager. “There was no question that a person or persons did this.”
Of the 32 birds brought in, only 10 have survived, Wayns said.
“The type of damage that’s happening with these pelicans, someone is brutally hurting these animals,” she told The Times.
Under California and federal law, it is illegal to harm brown pelicans. However, authorities have yet to identify the perpetrator.
According to USA Today, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center have since offered a $500 award to help spark public awareness, hoping to lead to an arrest.
Since the 1970s, the brown pelican population has rebounded significantly, subsequent to the banning of DDT and other pesticides, according to the Guide to North American Birds.
Known for their unmistakable large wings and high-diving plunges into water, brown pelicans live in America’s coastal regions, often approaching fishermen boats for timely donations.
Outside of scavenging for food, however, the birds don’t often intermingle with humans.
In some cases, people have attacked birds that have flown too close to their fishing boats.
In more severe cases, a Southern California knifeman slashed the pouches of five brown pelicans last year, according to The Times.
“They’re a beautiful bird,” said Hannah McDougall, the communications coordinator for Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami.
“It’s important to us that we protect them.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.