At least 3 ducks found with bills severed at Mile Square Park, wildlife officials want answers

A mallard brought into the Wetland and Wildlife Care Center was one of three found with severed bills in the past month.
A mallard recently brought into the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center was one of three ducks found with severed bills at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley.
(Courtesy of Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center)

Wildlife officials are seeking the public’s help in locating information or a possible suspect, after three ducks were discovered at Fountain Valley’s Mile Square Regional Park without their bills and either died or had to be euthanized.

Debbie McGuire, executive director of the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach reported Thursday two mallards had been brought into the facility with severed bills and in an emaciated state, one on July 31 and the other on Aug. 13.

Found near a pond area at the north end of the 600-acre park, near its border with Edinger Avenue, both waterfowl appeared to be starving, according to McGuire, who shared photos of the ducks with the public.


A mallard was one of three ducks recently discovered with their bills cut or broken off. All three died or were euthanized.
(Courtesy of Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center)

“The first duck came in on a Sunday. It was so weak it couldn’t fly,” she said. “We had to put it down due to the severity of the wound. Then, I got a call last Saturday about a second duck.”

While speaking with TV news crews outside the Huntington Beach rescue center, McGuire said she was approached by a volunteer who said she’d found a duck with a similar injury at Mile Square Park about one month earlier.

She took the bird home and tried to feed it, with the intention of bringing it to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center the next morning, but it died overnight.

“It’s very unsettling and upsetting for people to see these injuries,” McGuire said, explaining a duck’s bill is composed of keratin, bone and living skin tissue and is a blood source. A severed bill is essentially an amputation. “I’ve tried to rationalize what it could be [that’s removing the bills] — but it keeps coming back that it was humans.”

The severe injury sustained by a duck found with its bill severed is displayed by staff at Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center.
(Courtesy of Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center)

It is unknown whether the bird’s bills were cut off or broken. McGuire indicated in one case the mallard’s sinus cavities had been exposed by the severance.

“If they tried to eat or drink, they could inadvertently get water up in there and aspirate,” she said. “They have a lot of feeling [in their bills]. It would have been very, very painful. There would have been some blood.”

Mile Square Park is operated by Orange County Parks. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Todd Hylton said Friday the investigation is being overseen by officers with the county’s Animal Control Services.

McGuire said she’s communicated with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, since mallards are a protected migratory bird. She advises anyone who actively witnesses an incident of animal abuse in progress to call 911.

Anyone who discovers an injured duck is encouraged to contact O.C. Animal Care at (714) 935-6848. Witnesses may also call CDFW’s CalTIP line at (888) 334-2258 to report an instance of suspected abuse or poaching.

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