Third Duck Found with Beak Removed in Park Near L.A., Authorities Investigating Human Involvement

Three ducks have been found in a Fountain Valley, California, park with their beaks partially removed, and officials are investigating the string of injuries to determine the cause

Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center
Photo: Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center

Three ducks have been found with their beaks removed in a southern California park in recent weeks, continuing an alarming trend that has animal activists concerned.

The ducks, all found at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley, California, were unable to eat due to the nature of their injuries, and either died or had to be euthanized.

"Our suspicion is with so many injured in the same way, that it seems intentional," Debbie McGuire, executive director at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, told the Los Angeles Times.

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The discovery of the third victim came on Aug. 19, after the Wildlife Care Center posted widely about the first two ducks, whom they took in starting in July. Both of those animals were starving and ultimately euthanized, according to posts from Aug. 18.

The third duck, McGuire told the Los Angeles Times, was found by a volunteer on June 14 and died that night from starvation related to its injuries, but wasn't reported to authorities until last week.

"This third duck is most likely the first victim of these atrocities," McGuire told the Los Angeles Times.

The posts called the injuries "dramatic and heart-wrenching."

Investigators with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told the Los Angeles Times they are considering all possibilities as they look into the incidents. Their spokesperson said to the outlet there was a likelihood it was a natural predator because the injuries weren't "clean," but now that a third bird has been found, they are exploring the possibility that humans are behind the acts.

"This is something we're taking very seriously," Capt. Patrick Foy, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson, told PEOPLE. He added that his department employed an avian pathologist whose expertise will contribute to "our own analysis of the evidence."

Gathering evidence, Foy explained, would be the first step into compiling a report that would be passed on to a prosecutor, if it was determined that the elements of a crime were present.

He mentioned some of the challenges of the investigation, specifically that the birds in question are capable of flight, making it hard to determine their origins. He also added that the area has "a long history of people who dump domestic waterfowl" in local parks.

"We have no evidence that people did this," Foy added. However, "There are lots of unanswered questions. We're hoping the public has some tips."

Officials are asking anyone with information to call CalTip at (888) 334-2258, or OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848.

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