Injured pelicans taken to SPCA Wildlife Center in Texas

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The pelicans were located at or around Pier 19 in Galveston

Nine brown pelicans are undergoing treatment, at least 5 more are on the way to the SPCA's Wildlife Center and 11 more are dead. What the birds have in common is that they were discovered Monday at Pier 19 in Galveston.

Most, if not all the pelicans had fish hooks embedded in their bodies. Fishing lines entangled others.

According to the Wildlife Center, it is not unusual for pelicans to grow desperate for food in the winter months. That brings them into closer contact with fishing lines. Perhaps one a month are found with a fish hook. This many in a single day is troubling, if not suspicious.

The birds were found early this morning at the pier. An investigation is underway into whether the pelicans were hooked with the fishing barbs while looking for fish, or if it may have been intentional cruelty.

Galveston police officer Josh Henderson says he is at a loss for the large number of injured and dead birds.

"I keep an open mind, " he says. "I've never seen this many birds hurt in a single case before." He also notes that all the hooks appear to be different. It may be a case of sloppy fishermen."

One of the pelicans appears to have a hook embedded in its gullet, which will require surgery. None of the birds were undergo operations yet. Wildlife workers say they are also battling parasites and worms which make them malnourished.

Brown pelicans are protected by state wildlife laws in Texas.

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