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January 24, 2003

Reward grows to $25,500

Concerned organizations band together to help the Brown Pelicans

San Pedro, CA

Broken Peli wing

Broken radius and ulna bones in a California Brown Pelican's wing. (Karen Benzel/IBRRC)

Since the first mutilated pelicans came into the International Bird Rescue Research Center’s (IBBRC) San Pedro facility in December, support from the public, the media and other animal welfare groups has been overwhelming.

With a reward fund of more than $25,500 from individuals and groups including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Humane Society of the United States, Whale Rescue Team, United Animal Nations, Audubon, and Friends of Long Beach Animals, it’s hoped that if anyone has information about who might be maiming and killing the endangered birds, they will come forward.

The endangered California Brown Pelicans began showing up dead on Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, around December 22, 2002. Mark Russell, on duty at the center that day, was shocked when told that seven dead pelicans were found on the beach. Upon examination of the bodies, he found that all appeared to have been shot, with one having it’s right wing broken as well. Knowing the birds where California Brown Pelicans, protected by the Endangered Species Act, he called the law enforcement division of US Fish & Wildlife Service. The dead bodies were taken into evidence and an investigation was begun immediately.

Links to media stories

· CBS-TV News video
· New York Times story
· ABC-TV news report
· Earthfiles interview
· How to help us
· More photos

Over the next few weeks, seven more pelicans were brought to the center, all with their right wings broken beyond repair. None of the birds survived their injuries. What makes this even more tragic is that all the birds were healthy, mature adults, entering breeding season. The birds lay only one or two eggs a year and the loss of a mate during breeding season may mean they don’t breed at all. The mortality rate for baby pelicans is extremely high. Only about 30% make it to adulthood. The forensics division of USFWS in Oregon has possession of the bodies and a report is expected shortly.

Anyone knowing who the killer of the pelicans might be should call USFWS at (310) 328-1516. Anyone wishing to make a donation to help all pelicans that come into the rescue center, or wanting to add to the reward money, should call IBRRC at (310) 514-2573. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 2816, San Pedro, CA 90731.

IBRRC is located at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in Fort Mac Arthur, 3601 South Gaffey, San Pedro. Phone (310) 514-2573 or 2574. There is a press conference at the center on Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 10 AM. Directions to the center.

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Media contact:

Karen Benzel, International Bird Rescue Research Center, karen@ibrrc.org

Office: (831) 622-7588


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