Reward for information on injured pelicans along O.C.'s coast climbs to $25,500

Two rescued pelicans are released at Crystal Cove State Beach in Newport Beach.
Two rescued pelicans are released at Crystal Cove State Beach in Newport Beach in June.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Two more brown pelicans have been reported as dead on Orange County’s coast, prompting the Animal Legal Defense Fund to add to the reward for information on the perpetrators by $20,000.

This also brings the total number of injured pelicans discovered with broken wings between San Clemente and Huntington Beach to 34 since October.

The organization said that most pelicans did not survive their injuries and those that did required emergency surgery and long-term care. At least 22 of the pelicans died of their injuries, the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center reported last month.

The birds were classified as a federally endangered species in 1970, but were removed from the list in 2009.

“This infusion of funds added to our initial reward reflects the severity of harm to the pelicans found mutilated in Orange County and mounting pressure to find answers,” Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the local community will come forward with information in order to prevent further harm to these animals.”

The state is currently investigating the more than 100 miles of coast between Orange and Ventura counties, but Capt. Patrick Foy of Fish and Wildlife’s law enforcement division said state officials are at their wit’s end with the ongoing investigation.

“We have followed up on a couple of small tips that really didn’t turn up much substantive evidence,” Foy said. “We’re hoping for anything new that might help us give us more data or evidence to suggest that [the injuries are] in fact human-caused or any other situation where these birds are being injured somehow.”

“The birds have been found anywhere between Dana Point to Ventura at various stages of injury,” Foy said.

“But they have had nobody seeing someone try to catch these birds or intentionally mutilate them and release them into the wild,” he added. “We’re trying to put the pieces together to determine just how in fact this is happening and nobody is seeing it.”

Officials are encouraging members of the public to call the state tip line at (888) 334-2258 if they have any information.

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