NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Who would do such a thing? Pelicans severely injured and struggling to stay alive. Now one wildlife sanctuary is speaking out for the injured birds, some of which had to be put down, found in North Topsail Beach.
"The birds we found this weekend were already dead," said Deborah Woody, a volunteer at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in Hubert. "One was dying as we found it there was nothing we could do."
Though Woody could not save those birds, she's out to spread awareness in hopes of stopping what she calls a deliberate act. Sanctuary workers say over the past couple of weeks they have seen numerous pelicans in North Topsail Beach with serous injuries, from smashed and slashed wings to some who have pellet wounds.
The group thinks the birds were hurt intentionally. They would not say directly who they suspect, but they hinted at it.
"When they see the fishermen and the shrimp boats, they know it's free food," Woody said. "They throw out food, and birds get hurt 'cause they're in the way, and they do steal food, the money, the product from the shrimpers."
The state Wildlife Resources Commission is now looking into the incident. It is trying to figure out the cause of death of those pelicans who could not be saved.
"It could be anything from possibly commercial fishermen getting stuck in their net; completely accidental. Or it could be something malicious, someone actually trying to kill the birds for malicious reasons," WRC spokesman Scott Strickland said.
The Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary urges anyone to report an injured bird or suspicious activity.
"I'll stop when the tears stop, when I don't have that emotional attachment," Woody said. "It just rips my heart out."
The WRC says pelicans fall under the endangered and threatened species act. If the birds were intentionally hurt, whoever did it could face state and federal charges.