Brown Pelicans found with pouches slashed in Florida Keys, rangers fear cuts were done on purpose

At least one pelican has died, several injured

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The search is on for the person wildlife rangers said slashed and ripped open the pouches of several Brown Pelicans in South Florida.

The Florida Keys Wildlife Sanctuary said it has found several pelicans with a huge cut in their pouch.

Biologists said it prevents the birds from being able to hunt or properly digest food.

Sport fisherman Thomas Page could not believe it when he heard what happened.

"That's cruel. What are they cutting them with a knife or something?" questioned Page.

Sliced with two cuts from throat to beak, the impacted pelicans were discovered slashed in the Florida Keys.

One was found dead and another is currently being treated by veterinarians who suspect it was all done on purpose.

"It looked like someone intentionally opened up the mouth, stuck some kind of sharp knife in and literally ripped it as far as they could," said David Hitzig, director of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter.

Hitzig is assisting those operating on the injured pelicans. He called the act a death sentence for the birds.

"When you look at something like this, it's like why in the world would you want to do that? Is the pelican causing that much trouble to you?" questioned Hitzig.

Fishermen compete sometimes with pelicans for bait fish and Hitzig said in this recent case, frustrations could have spun out of control.

Page said if it was done on purpose, there is not excuse.
    
"You can't kick them out of their home. You can't just come up here and think that it's yours. It's theirs. I don't know, it's just cruel," said Page.

Brown Pelicans are a protected species in Florida. Anyone who is caught slashing the pouch of a pelican can spend up to one year in federal prison and pay a $15,000 fine per injured bird.

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