International Bird Rescue (IBR) said someone slashed the California Brown Pelican's entire pouch with a sharp knife-like object. The bird has been unable to eat and now faces surgery.
California wildlife officials are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who allegedly attacked the bird.
"Heartbreaking," said Diana Harder of Belmont Shore. "And they're just such beautiful birds, we should appreciate them."
IBR said the injured bird was found mutilated last week on the beach in the 5400 block of Ocean Boulevard where pelicans frequent. Officials say the bird will undergo one or more surgeries requiring hundreds of stitches. Temporary staples are currently holding the pouch in place so the bird can eat and gain strength.
"They're very tame, they're very docile and they're very vulnerable," Harder said. "So it's a shame to hear that."
California Brown Pelicans were recently taken off the endangered species list. They are migratory birds protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918, which makes harming them a crime.
Officials say the California Brown Pelicans have been under attack for years by fisherman who see them as competition. However, the birds are no threat because they mainly eat anchovies and sardines, fish that are used as bait by people who sport fish.
"I think it's unconscionable that anybody would do that to a harmless animal," said Julie Cuttrell of Belmont Shore.
Anyone with information about the pelican attack was asked to call the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service at (310) 328-1516.