“Poster child” of mutilated pelicans gets second chance at life

"Slash" was released September 23, 2004. (IBR photo)
“Slash” was released September 23, 2004. (IBR photo)

California Brown Pelicans continue to endure human abuse

A young female California brown pelican, who endured three surgeries and hundreds of stitches to repair her pouch, finally was set free on Thursday, September 23, 2004.

Found in the Redondo Beach area, her pouch slit from ear to ear, “Slash” spent two months in rehabilitation at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro. IBRRC has cared for 154 of the endangered birds this year, most starving juveniles who couldn’t find food, but also many with fishing/line hook injures, and some victims of abuse by humans.

“Slash is proof that pelicans continue to be mutilated and even killed by people who see them as competition for fish,” said IBRRC Executive Director, Jay Holcomb. “The truth is a pelicans diet is mostly anchovies and sardines, fish that are used as bait by people who fish for sport.”

“Slash” was gifted to USFWS special agent Bruce Toloski and his wife Lisa as part of IBRRC’s Adopt a Pelican program. Toloski headed the investigation of pelican mutilations that occurred in December 2002. 14 pelicans were found with their right wings broken and or/shot. He was close to apprehending the killer when he was hit by a drunk driver while helping a stranded motorist. He spent months in a coma and then a year of rehabilitation. On June 25, 2004, Bruce was presented with the 2003 Federal Law Enforcement Officers Associations Award for Heroism. Bruce and Lisa are expecting twins in December of 2004. Release photos with Bruce and Lisa.

IBRRC is asking for the public’s help, either by reporting pelican abuse to federal authorities, or by adopting a pelican. Please call Karen Benzel at 831-622-7588. The number for USFWS law enforcement division is (310) 328-1516.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to help all pelicans that come into the rescue center should send their donation to IBRRC, Pelican Fund, P.O. Box 2816, San Pedro, CA 90731.

IBRRC is located at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in Fort Mac Arthur, 3601 South Gaffey, San Pedro. Phone (310) 514-2573. Sign up for the next volunteer orientation, which are held on the second Saturday of each month.

See: Pelican project

IBRRC is a proud member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) a legislatively mandated program within The California Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) which strives to ensure that wildlife exposed to petroleum products in the environment receive the best achievable treatment by providing access to permanent wildlife rehabilitation facilities and trained personnel for oil spill response within California.