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Man sentenced to jail time in pelican choking case

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Sergio Alvarez was sentenced Friday after pleading no contest to strangling a pelican to death on the Malibu pier last month.

Sergio Alvarez was sentenced Friday after pleading no contest to choking a pelican to death near the Malibu pier last month.

30-year-old Alvarez, a transient, was sentenced Friday to 60 days in jail and a year's probation after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor animal cruelty, said the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. 

Alvarez was arrested Aug. 22 when a witness reported a man strangling a pelican. 

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, a witness claims to have seen Alvarez choke the animal with both hands. "Witnesses told deputies the pelican flapped its wings in distress until its body went limp and died," wrote Lt. Robert Wiard of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.

"This is new to us," said Stephanie Bell, associate director of PETA's cruelty investigations department, after the incident. Bell said she'd never heard of this type of voilence toward a pelican, and credited the witnesses for acting quickly to notifiy law enforcement officials.

According to prosecutors, Alvarez said he failed to catch any fish so he caught the bird to eat.

California Brown pelicans are no longer endangered but are still a fully protected species in the state. Department of Fish and Game officials recently urged people not to feed pelicans on beaches and fishing piers to avoid the animals becoming habituated to humans.


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