Man who stomped on pelican may don orange vest

A Perris man who stomped on a pelican trying to nab his fish at Newport Pier was sentenced to community service and probation, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Daniel Richard Moreno, 20, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty Tuesday at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail but was given the option of serving his time with Caltrans.

Moreno was given credit for time served after his arrest for the incident in March. He has 12 days left to serve and can either do it behind bars or with Caltrans, which could require him picking up trash on the side of the freeway in an orange vest, officials said.

On March 14, Moreno was fishing off the Newport Pier when a pelican swooped down from a nearby building and tried to grab one of his catch.

Moreno stomped on the pelican’s beak, giving the protected species a 33- to 36-centimeter hairline fracture and drawing blood. Animal experts said the injury could have been life threatening because pelicans dive beak-first into the water from upward of 60 feet in the air.

Moreno left the area after attacking the bird but witnesses pointed him out to police who arrested him.

He is scheduled to appear before a judge in March to verify that he completed his sentence. He was also given three years of informal probation.