California Officials Investigating After Ducks Found Without Beaks

by Lauren Boisvert

Another duck in Southern California was found with its beak removed in Fountain Valley’s Mile Square Regional Park. This makes three total ducks found in this condition. Wildlife rescue officials believe the removal was intentionally done by human hands. Unfortunately, the ducks were unable to eat and had to be euthanized.

“Our suspicion is with so many injured in the same way, that it seems intentional,” said executive director of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center Debbie McGuire to the Los Angeles Times. Since July, the center has cared for two other ducks with their beaks removed. Those ducks were starving and had to be euthanized as well.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the case, and says that it isn’t ruling out that the disfigurement was caused by a natural predator. But, the department states, the fact that three ducks have now been found in these circumstances raises the probability that someone did this on purpose. The punishment for animal cruelty in California is three years in state prison and up to a $20,000 fine. The California Penal Code defines animal cruelty as intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing a living animal.

Three Ducks Found Without Beaks in Southern California Park, Fish and Wildlife Investigating

According to the LA Times, the third duck was actually found on June 14, but not reported until recently. McGuire suspects this recent duck is actually the first victim of whoever is doing this. But, Fish and Wildlife says they have to cover all their bases. That means considering both animal cruelty and injuries in the wild.

CDFW stated in recent weeks that the beaks were not removed with clean cuts, and that led officials to believe the injuries were the result of predators. But, three ducks with missing beaks seems like one too many for it to be nature taking its course. According to Capt. Patrick Foy of Fish and Wildlife, the department was given one of the deceased ducks for investigation. An avian pathologist will inspect the injury and determine a cause.

For McGuire, there’s a very real possibility that there are more ducks out there with fatal injuries similar to the original three. For Foy, there are many challenges involved with the investigation. He mentioned that because ducks are capable of flight, their origins are much harder to track. Additionally, Mile Square Regional Park has “a long history of people who dump domestic waterfowl” in the park, said Foy. In short, the investigation is a difficult one, and Fish and Wildlife is hoping Fountain Valley residents have any information.

Per the LA Times, anyone who has information on these mutilations should call CalTip at (888) 334-2258, or OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848.