32 Mutilated Pelicans Found on California Beaches, Reward Issued for 'Atrocious Act'

Over 30 mutilated pelicans have been discovered along California beaches and a reward of over $5,000 has been offered for any information on who is responsible.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said in a recent press release that they are "offering an additional $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for attacking and mutilating dozens of brown pelicans on the coast of Orange County, Calif. The reward now totals up to $5,500."

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, since October 2020, at least 32 pelicans with broken wings have been found along California's coast from San Clemente to Huntington Beach.

The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, Calif. is also asking the public for donations to help with the rehabilitation of the injured pelicans.

In a press release on June 16, the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center said, "Someone is intentionally breaking brown pelicans' wings...We need your help to find whomever is performing this atrocious act."

Most of the pelicans discovered did not survive and the ones that did needed immediate surgery and long-term care, the Animal Defense Fund said.

"It's extremely worrisome that these pelicans have been the victims of a nine-month onslaught with no end in sight," Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director said in the press release. "Violence towards animals is a strong predictor of violence towards humans, meaning that these cruel attacks pose concerns for the safety of humans and animals alike. We're hopeful that the local community will come forward with information to prevent further harm."

Lora Dunn, director of the criminal justice program at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said to Newsweek in a written statement that, "The perpetrators of such heinous violence against these animal victims must be held accountable—to ensure justice for those pelicans who have already suffered and died, and the safety of future victims."

"All animals—including wildlife like these pelicans—deserve protection under the law as the living, sentient, beings they are. The Animal Legal Defense Fund stands ready to assist law enforcement in this important investigation," Dunn said in her statement to Newsweek.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said that the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center is caring for the remaining pelicans. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also assisting in the investigation into the matter.

Over 30 injured pelicans have been found along the coast of California beaches. A Brown pelican flies over surfers during the early morning hours at El Porto Beach on December 11, 2019 in Manhattan Beach, California Bruce Bennett/Getty

According to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, 22 of the pelicans that have survived suffered compound fractures to their wings. As of publication time, the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center donation fund had received $28,425 of their $150,000 goal.

As officials continue to search for the person who committed this act, the Animal Legal Defense Fund noted in their press release that under California law, "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."

Newsweek reached out to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Updated July 1, 2021, 10:20 a.m. ET to include a statement from Lora Dunn, the director of the criminal justice program at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.