A $500 reward is being offered for information in the case of a great egret found with two gunshot wounds outside a Southern California middle school.
The gleaming white marsh bird, nicknamed Ernie by students who found him outside Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks, is recovering at the Los Angeles Wildlife Center. One of the gunshots fractured the bird's wing bone and damaged its keel, an anchor for its wing muscles.
The egret, found Nov. 28, was brought to an animal hospital before it was transferred to International Bird Rescue's Los Angeles Wildlife Center.
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International Bird Rescue is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of the shooter.
"Bird Rescue was created to mitigate human impact on birds, and most of the injuries we see on a daily basis are caused by human negligence," said JD Bergeron, the agency's executive director. "A bird like this though -- a beautiful white marsh bird that was used for target practice -- is the victim of willful human cruelty."
Great egrets were nearly hunted to extinction in the late 1800s. They were sought for their silky plume of feathers. They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to call the US Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 310-328-1516.