Originally posted at 10:37 a.m. April 22, 2014. Updated with new details.
A California brown pelican that apparently had its jaw pouch slit is expected to undergo surgery, and a $5,000 reward was being offered today for information that leads to the culprit.
Long Beach animal control officers found the pelican April 16 in the 5400 block of Ocean Boulevard near Bayshore Park, according to officials at the International Bird Rescue center in San Pedro. Pending surgery to stitch up the pouch, the slit has been stapled shut to enable the bird to feed itself.
"Pelicans are of no threat to anyone yet they continue to be mutilated and even killed by people who see them as competition for fish," IBR director Jay Holcomb said. "The truth is a pelican's diet is mostly anchovies and sardines, fish that are used as bait by people who fish for sport."
Holcomb told the Daily Breeze the pelican's chance of fully recovering was about "50-50." It apparently had not been able to eat for some time because pelicans dive on their prey and scoop up fish in their pouches, he told the newspaper.
California brown pelicans were recently removed from the endangered species list but remain a threatened species.
The IBR initially announced a $2,500 reward for information leading to the person who attacked the pelican. The Animal Legal Defense Fund later doubled the reward to $5,000.
Anyone with information on who may have harmed the pelican was asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (310) 328-1516.