BRADENTON, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating after pelicans were found intentionally injured at a local fishing pier.
State wildlife officers are investigating reports of injured birds at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier.
Kim Begay, the vice-chair of Friends of the Pelicans, said more than 15 pelicans have been found with intentional injuries.
"We have a lot of pelicans coming in with the same type of injuries on the forehead and it looks like somebody has been intentionally inflecting some of these wounds on the forehead because they're clean lines and like a scalpel or knife," said Kim Begay. "We had one with the exact shape of a rectangle and it was like a nice clean edge."
Wildlife officers said the people or person responsible face potential animal cruelty charges and migratory bird violations.
FWC also wants to educate the public about responsible fishing practices and what to do if they hook a bird while fishing.
Begay said her organization rescues about 100 pelicans every week. The pelicans are injured by fishing hooks or tangled in fishing lines.
"Typically, the average per day is approximately 20-25 per day and that doesn't mean all those go to rehab," said Begay. "If you see us on the pier, flag us over. We'll run right over. We'll help you."
Begay said her organization works to educate the public.
"We want to have an amicable relationship with the fishermen. We want to have a partnership. We want to work together. We're not against them. We are just concerned about the safety and welfare of the pelicans. We all want to work together to make sure they're safe and healthy and not harmed," said Begay.
FWC officers said it is investigating the reports of the intentionally injured pelicans on the pier. The public may report violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
FWC also released an instructional video on what to do if you hook a bird while fishing.
To view the video, click here.