FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – It was near the marina at Seabreeze and Las Olas where a pelican was killed at the hands of a teen.
Wildlife investigators say a boy from the Venetian Condominiums, along with a few friends, tormented a pelican several times in one night three weeks ago. It was all caught on surveillance video. The bird ended up dying.
“The boys who were harassing the pelican were holding its beak closed and taking electronic cigarette smoke and blowing it into the eyes and beak of the animal,” said Liz Barraco from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commissioner. “A pelican doesn’t have nostrils so it needs its mouth open to breathe.”
What may have killed it was holding the beak shut, causing it to suffocate. Vets at the South Florida Wildlife Center treat a lot of injured pelicans. They recently got one from the same area where this one died. Robert McIntyre has seen a lot of injured pelicans here. Wednesday, he chased off kids who were catching pelicans with fishing poles.
“The bait they had was floating on top so they were coming in and there was a bunch of pelicans around them,” said McIntyre. “They were catching the pelicans and taking pictures and laughing.”
And recently in the keys pelicans were the target of someone who was slicing their pouches. Dr. Don Harris was able to patch them up.
Those pouches he fixed are crucial for the bird’s survival. The pouch is used to catch fish – if it can’t hold water, the bird can’t eat.
“When they hunt for fish, often times what they’ll do is fill the pouch with water and swallow the fish that are inside the pouch,” said Dr. Renata Schneider from the South Florida Wildlife Center.
Schneider points out, pelicans are federally protected. What that means is you can look but can’t touch.