Local News

Beach officials: Pelicans' deaths deliberate

Posted November 22, 2010

— More than two dozen pelicans found on North Topsail Beach within the past two weeks appeared to have been deliberately injured or killed, town officials said Monday.

Six pelicans were found dead on North Topsail Beach Saturday, said Toni O'Neil, director of Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary, an Onslow County nonprofit that specializes in waterfowl rehabilitation.

One pelican's pouch was slit, and the others had wounds from pellet gunshots. Two had the ends of their wings smashed in.

A week earlier, two injured pelicans were found less than a mile apart on North Topsail Beach. Their wings had been cut, severing the tendons and muscles they use to fly.

O'Neil said that kind of injury can't be healed, so the pelicans had to be euthanized.

Town officials said the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission believes the pelicans are being killed in international waters, town officials said.

The commission has requested assistance from several agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard to help with the investigation.

Injured pelican_02 Beach investigating pelican deaths

Pelicans are protected by federal law, which stipulates penalties for injuring them.

"My heart's broken. It's just so sad," said Deborah Woody, of Possumwood Acres.

One Topsail resident thinks diving into water too shallow caused the injuries. Another thinks it is young people playing a prank.

Pelicans with similar injuries were found along North Topsail Beach last year, but the injuries ceased after an investigation began, she said.

O'Neil urged anyone who sees injured pelicans to report them so they can be helped to heal or put down humanely.

"There's got to be somebody out there that knows this is happening. Report them, let us know," Woody said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Justin T. Nov 23, 2010

    I'll bet the local police filed the sordid details of this case in The Pelican Brief.

  • beachman Nov 23, 2010

    How can anyone think this is kids. These pelicans do not stay on land they stay on the water. It look more like a commercial fishermen protecting there fish catch! When the commercial fishermen putt in there nets all the fish come to the top of the water and thats when the pelicans dive in after them. The fishermen look at it as they are taking money out of there pockets. So do the math.

  • edith wharton Nov 23, 2010

    Pelicans are a protected species for a reason. I don't know enough to say what those reasons are, but I imagine their habitats have been encroached upon and they have lots of competition for food and nesting sites. With the amount of development NC has on its coastline, the birds need help from people to survive. Someone deliberately harming and killing these birds three years in a row is a sign that someone has an agenda all right - the person killing the pelicans.

  • 88gta Nov 23, 2010

    You know what? So what? Yes it was cruel and wantonly unnecessary. But what's the agenda behind keeping it "above the fold"? With all that's going on in the world, for this to be featured so prominently for several days gives me pause as to whether or not the focus is in the right place. -A_Patriot

    Kind of sounds like you sympathize with these people. People like you who just want to shrug these kinds of things off are the problem with our society today. As long as you don't percieve a problem to affect you directly, you don't care. Pathetic.

    And another thing, whats with trying to label media coverage of this story part of an "agenda"? It makes you sound like some kind of conspiracy theorist nut job.

  • wewoods Nov 23, 2010

    When do you call killing either sanctioned or senseless? Most, but definitely not all, adults know the difference but young people? When I read story after story about killing wild animals, even peoples pets (the poor man in the wheelchair who had his little poodle euthanized because he wasn't on a leash) because they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time I am not surprised that this sort of thing happens. Our society portray's in movies, games, and everyday living that killing is OK, and thanks to most armed forces even right. And people wonder why things like this happen???? Open your eyes people...

  • Familymatters Nov 23, 2010

    How in the world does the NC WRC think this happened in international waters??? So this bird that had his tendons cut just swam a couple miles back to land??? Honestly did someone REALLY say this??

  • bonnnie Nov 22, 2010

    People should be ashamed to do such things but people have no shame anymore. Its beyond belief what they do to others!

  • lmbl Nov 22, 2010

    My daughter found a dead pelican at Atlantic Beach this weekend. She thought it had been intentionally killed. We have seen huge turtles deliberately run over, dead dogs and cats in plastic bags tossed by the side of the road, deer carcasses thrown into the waterways, etc. Unfortunately, no one seems to care when we try to find out from authorities what we can do to stop these things from happening.

  • A_Patriot Nov 22, 2010

    You know what? So what? Yes it was cruel and wantonly unnecessary. But what's the agenda behind keeping it "above the fold"? With all that's going on in the world, for this to be featured so prominently for several days gives me pause as to whether or not the focus is in the right place.

    In addition, the working theory is that the abuses are occurring in international waters (as opposed to "on the beach"). What is the expectation for justice here?!?

  • Go Figure Nov 22, 2010

    Like I have always said people who hurt animals, children and the elderly are disposable and should feel the same pain they inflict