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Pelican with slashed throat pouch rescued; culprit sought

Endangered SpeciesConservationEnvironmental Issues

A bird rescue organization is offering a $2,500 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of whoever was responsible for slashing a brown pelican's throat pouch, leaving it weak and malnourished.

Long Beach Animal Care Services reportedly found the California brown pelican on Wednesday along Ocean Boulveard on the Alamitos Peninsula near Bayshore Park.

With its pouch slashed open, the bird likely hadn’t eaten for days, said Jay Holcomb of International Bird Rescue, which is treating the bird.

Holcomb said the nature of the injury indicates it was intentional.

“Whoever handles [a pelican] would have to be very strong” to hold the bird down, Holcomb said. “That means they wanted to hurt an innocent animal, and that’s completely unacceptable.”

Rescuers are caring for the bird at a San Pedro facility, and have stapled the pelican’s pouch shut, allowing it to eat. The bird's condition is slowly improving, Holcumb said, but it will require surgery to fully heal.

Surgery will be scheduled for later this week or early next, once the pelican stabilizes, Holcomb said.

The brown pelican was one of the first species to be listed as endangered, largely due to the effects of DDT and widespread slaughter by fisherman during World War II.

The population rebounded, and the bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2009. Still, federal law makes it illegal to kill or harm migratory birds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call (310) 328-1516.

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christine.maiduc@latimes.com

Twitter: @cmaiduc

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