BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- A pelican rescue group in Florida wants state wildlife officials to heighten patrols at a popular fishing pier in Manatee County after more than a dozen mutilated birds were discovered over the past month in the area.
"It sure looks like somebody has cut a square right into the forehead of several of them," Kim Begay, Friends of the Pelicans vice chair, told Spectrum Bay News 9.
Since Jan. 9, the rescue group says a total of 16 disfigured pelicans have been found at the fishing pier on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Some of the mutilated birds were discovered as recently as last week.
Begay said the pelican rescue group has managed to save all but one of the wounded pelicans.
"We are asking that the state park system increase patrols, have somebody stationed at the end of the pier" -- particularly at night, Begay said, when "there's literally no oversight out here."
Some have dubbed the South Skyway Fishing Pier as "pelican death row."
The group typically rescues between 25 to 35 pelicans every day at the fishing pier. In the past two months, it has rescued a total of 600 pelicans. Most of those birds were tangled in fishing lines or snagged with hooks.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Senior Officer Adam Brown said they are currently investigating reports of pelicans being intentionally injured at the pier.
"We encourage the public to report these violations to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922," Brown stated in an email. "Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward."