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Duck Wounded by Blowgun Is Healing After Treatment

Times Staff Writer

A wild duck, pierced by two darts apparently fired from a blowgun as it swam in Upper Newport Bay, was said to be in good condition Friday after the darts were removed at an animal hospital, while a search went on for three other birds known to have been hit by the 7-inch, steel missiles.

“We spotted one of the three, but it seemed to know we were after it, so it kept out of reach,” said Michelle Caldwell of the Newport Beach Animal Control office.

She said the birds, members of the migratory flock that winters in the bay, were seen earlier in the week with darts protruding from their bodies. With the help of volunteers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a mallard hen was netted Thursday.

The birds could fly despite their wounds, Caldwell said, and no dead ones have been found. One is said to be a coot, or mud hen, while the others are mallards.

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The darts were removed from the captured bird late Thursday by veterinarian Joel Pasco of the All Creatures Care Cottage in Costa Mesa, which treats wild animals at no cost. He said one had gone through her throat, protruding on both sides but missing vital organs such as the jugular vein. The other had stuck in the breast muscle beneath one wing.

“She looked like an avian pincushion,” Pasco said, “but she’s in very good shape, and we’ll probably release her back to the bay Sunday.”

All animals, including migratory birds, are protected by state laws when in the ecological preserve of Upper Newport Bay. Those who harm creatures there, or are even seen carrying weapons in the sanctuary, are subject to penalties of up to $2,000 and one year in jail, a state Department of Fish and Game spokesman said.


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