$25K Reward Offered for Information on 'Brutal' Pelican Mutilations in California
Local animal advocacy groups say the wild birds have been found with "twisted wing and bones protruding" and they believe the same culprit is behind the attacks
The reward for information about the recent attacks on wild brown pelicans in Orange County, California, has been increased to $25,000.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a legal advocacy organization for animals, announced Tuesday that it raised the reward from the previous $5,000 to $25,000 after two more of the birds were reported dead.
Since October, a total of 34 brown pelicans have been discovered mutilated along the California coastline, and officials believe it's a targeted attack by the same person or people since there are "consistent types of fractures that have been found on the animals."
"Recently, a pelican was discovered with a twisted wing and bones protruding. Most pelicans did not survive, and those who did needed emergency surgery and long-term care," reads the Tuesday press release.
Orange County's Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center is assisting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in an investigation, while also caring for pelicans who survived the attacks.
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
The organization notes that the maximum penalty for maliciously and intentionally maiming or mutilating an animal in California is a fine up to $20,000, up to three years in jail, or both.
"This infusion of funds added to our initial reward reflects the severity of harm to the pelicans found mutilated in Orange County and mounting pressure to find answers. We are hopeful that the local community will come forward with information in order to prevent further harm to these animals," said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director, in a statement.
To report relevant information in this case, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-888-334-2258 (1-888-334-CalTIP) with anonymous tips.
Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center has so far raised nearly $30,000 in donations to help fight the "brutal attacks on pelicans."