RALEIGH – Pelicans are again being found dead, washed ashore on North Carolina beaches from Onslow Beach to Topsail Beach. Last year hundreds of these birds were reported dead with curious injuries that may have been the result of human hands.
Several otherwise healthy looking pelicans washed ashore on Onslow Beach with shattered wings. Last year over 200 dead or injured birds with similar injuries were recovered in the same general area. The cause of death is currently unknown but the injuries suggest wanton waste, intentionally killing and discarding a wild animal for no justifiable reason.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation is responding by starting a pelican reward fund offering a reward of $5,000 for information regarding the pelican deaths that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property by the subject or subjects responsible.
“If it is true that these birds are being killed by a human hand, we want to know who,” said Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “The reward pool is established to entice anyone with information to come forth. We are providing these resources to underscore the seriousness we place on what appears to be a calculated, callous, and reprehensible act of destruction. This wanton waste of wildlife resources is a blight on the entire wildlife conservation community and must not be tolerated.”
The Brown Pelican is a protected species both at the Federal and State level. Anyone caught harming them is subject to prosecution. Each conviction of killing a protected brown pelican carries a hefty fine and the penalty can include loss of property and even jail time.
Already the PenderWatch & Conservancy has added to the Wildlife Federation reward pool with a $700 contribution bringing the to-date total to $5,700.
“We are committed to pursuing all leads as we continue this investigation,” says Colonel Dale Caveny of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement. “We hope that this addition to the reward fund will prompt someone to come forward with additional information that will help us bring criminal charges in this case.”
“We hope an investigation yields results and that the message is crystal clear: poaching, maiming, or illegal killing of wildlife species in North Carolina will not be tolerated,” says Gestwicki. “We condemn in full any illegal wildlife violations and remain resolved to assisting state and federal agencies in upholding the regulations and guiding principles of fish and wildlife management.”
To report wildlife violations anonymously, call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137.