The reward to find whoever is responsible for mutilating more than 30 brown pelicans along the coast of Orange County over the past several months has increased by $20,000, officials announced Tuesday.
Since October, 34 mutilated brown pelicans have been discovered from San Clemente to Huntington Beach, including two dead birds recently reported, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nationwide legal advocacy organization for animals, said in a news release Tuesday.
Initially, a $5,500 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the vicious attacks on the brown pelicans.
The reward now stands at $25,500.
“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,”Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said. “We are hopeful that the local community will come forward with information in order to prevent further harm to these animals.”
Of the rescued birds, 22 had severe compound fractures — where the bone is completely broken in half and the pieces are sticking through the skin — to the humerus bone, which is where the wing is located.
None of the birds with the severe compound fractures survived.
Ten other pelicans suffered different types of closed wing fractures and were given a better prognosis.
Recently, a pelican was discovered with a “twisted wing and bones protruding,” officials said Tuesday.
Officials believe all of the attacks were done on purpose due to the consistent types of fractures that were found on the pelicans.
While most of the pelicans did not survive the brutal attacks, the ones that did underwent emergency surgery and received long-term care by the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.
The organization has since set up a fund for care expenses, raising nearly $30,000 of their $150,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.
The cases are being investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Anyone with information related to the pelican attacks is urged to contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-888-334-2258. Or, text “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411, if you have any information. Include penal code 597 in the report. All tips will remain anonymous.
In California, the maximum penalty for maliciously and intentionally maiming or mutilating a living animal is a fine of up to $20,000 or up to three years imprisonment, or both.