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Preliminary lab results of dead pelicans found at North Topsail Beach are back from a lab at the University of Georgia.
Scientists there say there's no evidence to support the birds died by a violent death by humans. They say the birds showed no signs of gunshot wounds or other abuse.
NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. - Majestic birds, with horrific injuries, though what?s causing them to die is now up for debate
A federal agency is investigating the killings of dozens of pelicans along the North Carolina coast.
Stacy Shelton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the agency began its investigation last year, after a similar but smaller rash of pelican deaths.
Since November, volunteers and investigators have found about 150 deliberately killed birds, mostly in North Topsail Beach. The recent deaths have prompted the agency to renew its investigation.
A task force meeting is being planned between local, state and federal officials to address the large number of pelican deaths in the area.
And despite the injuries to the dead birds appearing to be intentional, preliminary results of pelican autopsies detected no evidence of malicious injuries, according to experts.
Sara Schweitzer, a biologist with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, collected bodies of dead pelicans and sent them to the University of Georgia for diagnostic work to try to confirm how the birds died.
“There was no evidence of a knife cut, no evidence found of a sharp object cutting through tissue, no evidence of a sharp object cutting the neck,” she said. “There were no bone fragments, which would indicate someone hitting the birds, and if there had been handling of the birds there would be tissue bruising and hemorrhaging, which would show up on the (autopsy). So it doesn’t appear the birds were injured maliciously.”
Dead and injured pelicans began washing up on North Topsail Beach in early November. However, since the birds arrived at the University of Georgia so close to the holidays, complete toxicology and pathology results are not in yet, Schweitzer said.