NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—In response to more than 32 Brown pelicans being attacked somewhere along the coast of Orange County, a GoFundMe page has been established to assist with the costs of treating the birds, all who have been taken to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach.
In addition, the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced this week that it is contributing $5,000 to a reward being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for maliciously attacking the birds.
“Sadly, we’ve had calls from people who have seen other dead birds, some with their wings completely ripped off,” Debbie McGuire, executive director of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center told The Epoch Times. “We’re referring all calls to CalTips since this is a criminal investigation being conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”
CalTips is a confidential witness program in place to assist authorities in apprehending poachers, polluters and others causing harm to wildlife. While it’s too late for many of the birds, McGuire is hopeful that caller tips will help authorities piece together a geographic area of where the birds are coming from, or other suspicious activity that may be associated with the attacks.
As reported last week by The Epoch Times, to date less than a dozen of the wounded pelicans have survived, two of which were released back to Crystal Cove State Beach on June 23, where they were originally found in distress.
“Who knows how many don’t make it back to the beach and end up hurt along a rocky coastal area where nobody will find them until too late. It’s still just heartbreaking,” McGuire said. “All we can do is continue to get the word out about these crimes and encourage the public to call CalTips with any information they may have, it’s worked in the past in finding perpetrators, we’re hoping for the same in this case.”
After seeing a report about the injured pelicans on a news program, Alex Shealy of Boise, Idaho reached out to McGuire to inquire about setting up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the birds’ medical expenses, which are upward of $5,000 per bird.
In only three days since the page was set up, Shealy’s page raised $12,430, and he’s hopeful that the number will continue to grow as the story of the unsolved mystery continues to garner media and public attention.
An animal lover and advocate, Shealy is a former Boise city councilmember and Boise Zoo liaison, and said he was compelled to do something to help after learning about the attacks.
“I was so moved by the story, the atrocities that are being committed against these birds, that I just found I had to do something,” Shealy told The Epoch Times.
“I can’t imagine what kind of a human being could lower themselves to do something like that to an innocent animal. Unfortunately, it’s one of a litany of horror stories that you hear virtually every day about animal abuse, and speaking of the pelicans specifically, this is also going on in Florida.”
Once the situation in California is resolved, Shealy said he hopes to raise additional funds to assist authorities in Florida who are struggling with similar crimes.
“Like many people, when I go to the beach I just love to watch the pelicans skim over the water, and dive to get their daily catch. It’s incomprehensible to think of them being attacked.”
In a statement issued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, executive director Stephen Wells said: “It’s extremely worrisome that these pelicans have been the victims of a nine-month onslaught with no end in sight.”
“Violence toward animals is a strong predictor of violence towards humans, meaning that these cruel attacks pose concerns for the safety of humans and animals alike,” said Wells.
“We’re hopeful that the local community will come forward with information to prevent further harm.”
Wells said the maximum penalty in California 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.
Anyone with information related to the pelican attacks can contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at (888) 334-2258. All tips remain anonymous.