Someone in the Keys Is Torturing Pelicans

It began December 6 when a boat captain discovered a pelican on Summerland Key that was all but sure to starve. Someone had cut two six-inch lacerations in the bird, which exposed the creature's trachea and prevented it from swallowing food. Since that gruesome find, at least ten other birds have been discovered with their pouches slashed in a similar manner.

Most recently, two were discovered last night near Summerland and Cudjoe keys. The suffering animals underwent emergency surgery last night at South Dade Animal Hospital. Although those two birds will reportedly be fine after six weeks of rehabilitation, five others have died so far from these attacks.

"It's disturbing to me, being a human, to think that somebody would go to this extreme to hurt these guys," Dr. Don Harris, who performed surgery on the birds, told Local 10 yesterday.

Because the cuts are definitely malicious and appear to be designed so the birds cannot hold fish, it seems as if an angry fisherman might be behind them. But if the birds were merely perceived as a threat to someone's fishing operation, there would be no need to torture the birds before killing them. More likely, then, is that the person behind the pelican attacks is simply a very sick individual. Notably, animal cruelty is also part of the Macdonald triad -- or a set of three behaviors that are said to be predictive of violent or homicidal serial offenses in the future.

This isn't the first time South Florida has a seen an animal serial killer. In the spring of 2009, almost 33 cats were killed in Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay. The now-21-year-old man who was accused of the crimes has since had his charges dropped, and he unsuccessfully sued Miami-Dade, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a veterinarian for tarnishing his name. Presumably, the perpetrator of those crimes is still on the loose.

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

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