Radiographs of a great blue heron that was rescued last week near Ridgemark revealed the bird was shot with pellets from an air rifle, according to Wildlife Emergency Services of Moss Landing.
When WES representative Deanna Barth arrived at the scene where the heron was reported in distress, she said she was surprised that the bird was neither skittish nor flighty, two typical responses when a person approaches.
"While it's not unusual to see a heron or egret in one's backyard – especially one that is so lush and with offerings of a fish pond, the bird's behavior is what clued us in to this being an ill or injured animal," she said in a blog post, noting that the WES was referred to the scene by the Holister Police Department. Although these birds are naturally shy of people, they have been known to land in backyards that have shallow fish ponds.
State and federal authorities have been notified and a $5,050 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime. The bird, which is being cared for at International Bird Rescue in Fairfield, was found off of Glenview Drive, near the Ridgemark community. Herons frequent open fields where they prey on gophers, ground squirrels and snakes. They are also found near ponds and creeks where they prey on fish.
For more information on Wildlife Emergency Services, click here.