Dr Rebecca Duerr cleans and closes a gunshot wound prior to pinning the fractured pelican’s wing. Photo by Kelly Berry – International Bird Rescue. The x-ray (above) of the broken ulna show pieces of bullet.
Dr Rebecca Duerr cleans and closes a gunshot wound prior to pinning the fractured pelican’s wing. Photo by Kelly Berry – International Bird Rescue. The x-ray (above) of the broken ulna show pieces of bullet.

A brown pelican found starving to death, its wing fractured by a bullet, is recovering at a San Pedro bird center, although it’s unclear whether it will ever fly again, it was reported Wednesday.

The adult male bird was discovered on Portofino Way near Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach on March 12, emaciated and dehydrated, having lost weight as it struggled to move and find food without a functioning wing, the Daily Breeze reported.

When the bird, now known as Pink 191, was picked up by animal control officers, he had a broken ulna — one of the wing bones — and a fishhook embedded in the right shoulder, the newspaper reported. But what the radiograph showed stunned staff members at the International Bird Rescue Los Angeles center.

“It was very clear that it was a gunshot,” Kelly Berry, the center manager, said in remarks reported by the Breeze. “You don’t see many cases like this. It’s rare to see a gunshot pelican.”

X-ray of the Redondo Beach Brown Pelican’s gunshot wound, causing an ulna fracture. Photo courtesy International Bird Rescue.
X-ray of the Redondo Beach Brown Pelican’s gunshot wound, causing an ulna fracture. Photo courtesy International Bird Rescue.

Shrapnel from a bullet was clearly visible surrounding the compound fracture in the X-ray. In surgery, a pin was placed in his ulna to stabilize the fracture, and the fishhook injury was superficial, Berry said, according to the Breeze. Pink 191 now is living in an outdoor enclosure without water access since the wrap around his wing can’t get wet.

The prognosis is unclear at this point since debris and bacteria entered the wound. Berry said there is a substantial risk of infection, the Breeze reported.

Berry estimated the center would spend thousands of dollars on the pelican’s recovery. The pin will be removed in about two weeks, and the bird will be moved to a large aviary. He will need substantial physical therapy to get back into full flight, Berry said.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, the center is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting the pelican. Anyone with information on the pelican shooting also should contact Fish and Wildlife at (310) 328-1516.

— City News Service

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