Fishermen in Frank Sound beat a pelican so badly with an oar, the bird had to be euthanised, officials from the Department of Environment revealed.
Responding to a report from a member of the public, Department of Environment enforcement officer Carl Edwards found the bird washed ashore on Frank Sound beach on 27 February.
“When I found the bird, he was in a bad way,” said Mr. Edwards. “He had a large fishing hook caught in his wing and the wing was obviously broken. I assumed that the bird had become entangled in the heavy-duty line, and damaged himself in the struggle to get free.”
He took the pelican to Island Vet, but the bones in its wing were shattered beyond repair, so the vet euthanised the bird. Both Mr. Edwards and the vet assumed the bird was the victim of a tragic accident.
However, last week, another member of the public contracted Mr. Edwards to report that, on the afternoon the bird washed ashore, two men were seen in a small silver boat out in the sound. The witness said the men had hauled a pelican alongside their boat, and then beat it repeatedly with an oar until it escaped.
When the bird finally managed to free itself and swim away, the witness noticed it was trailing its wing.
“I am a keen fisherman myself. Seabirds taking bits of bait and lures is commonplace, it is something which most fisherman experience and are willing to accept.
“This kind of behaviour is appalling, and displays a total disrespect for our wildlife and the laws which protect it. This callous and illegal act has resulted in the cruel and unnecessary death of a splendid bird,” said Mr. Edwards.
According to the Department of Environment, it was likely this pelican was the same one people commuting from Prospect had been seeing in recent months, perched on top of a CUC pole in the central road reservation.
Pelicans are not uncommon in Cayman, but Mr. Edwards said: “The opportunity to observe one of these magnificent birds so close up is something which has brought a good deal of enjoyment to many people.”
The Department of Environment has been getting an increasing number of calls about injured wildlife since Cayman Wildlife Rescue closed down last year. The Department of Environment has set up a dedicated funding line to receive donations from the public to help with costs for caring for injured animals and birds.
Anyone with information about the attack on the pelican or to make a donation to support the rehabilitation of injured wildlife should call the Department of Environment on 949-8469.