Florida Wild Mammal rescued the bird at Shell Point

Story & Photos By
Special to The Sun

On the evening of May 15, a pelican was spotted on a Shell Point dock with a hunting knife lodged in its bill.

Concerned residents contacted the Florida Wild Mammal Association (FWMA), who advised them to call back if the pelican was still there the next day.
The following morning, the injured pelican appeared again. Armed with a net and baitfish, the FWMA tried valiantly to capture it, but the wary bird flew away each time.
One FWMA volunteer, Nick, borrowed a kayak and paddled from Walker Creek Drive to the Village neighborhood, then to Royster Drive and back, trying to corral the pelican. As the team began to run out of baitfish, a neighbor offered shrimp and the chase continued.
The pelican was not impressed with the shrimp, but a gaggle of nearby seagulls felt differently. Another neighbor came to the rescue with baitfish from their freezer.
Finally, the FWMA team decided it was time for a new plan: using a cast net. Dylan Mercer, who happened to be working nearby, offered to help.
Although Mercer hadn’t thrown a cast net in a decade, he stood ready, waiting for the pelican to return to the dock. When it did, Dylan stood still until the bird turned its back. Then, with a picture-perfect throw, he flung the net forward and captured the bird.
The FWMA took the pelican in for treatment, affectionately naming him “Mr. P.”
Mr. P was found to have significant injuries. It was clear that the knife had been deliberately stabbed through the middle of his bill. His beak was severely damaged, but fortunately, there was enough blood flow to keep the beak alive.
The FWMA started Mr. P on a course of antibiotics to prevent infection, which is critical for recovery.
According to the FWMA, it is not uncommon for pelicans to be attacked in Wakulla County. Their team has seen pelicans with slashed throats, wings intentionally broken, and even cases where they were fed firecrackers. This was the first documented instance of a pelican surviving a knife lodged in its beak.
The FWMA team remains hopeful for Mr. P’s recovery and eventual release into the wild. His case underscores the importance of respecting the natural world that we are all so blessed to enjoy in Wakulla County.
If you would like to support the FWMA team, please consider donating at fwma.org. Your generosity can make a significant difference in the lives of animals like Mr. P.