PASADENA, Fla. (WFLA) – Somebody is shooting Great Egrets with a paintball gun.
For more than a month, the beautiful white birds with long necks, have been showing up in a Pasadena neighborhood, with brightly-colored paint all over their feathers.
“When I see something like this, it just makes me sick in my stomach,” said Steven Cook.
From his front porch, Cook enjoys watching the great egrets that come to visit. He knows most of them and has given them names.
“It just irks me so much. That’s why I just went public,” Cook said.
In recent weeks, he’s taken videos and pictures of egrets with, what appears to be the aftermath of a paintball hit. One bird shows the marks of a point-blank shot.
“I can’t imagine who would be so callous as to try to hurt these birds. It’s not even a fair fighting chance for them,” he said.
Great Egrets, like many other birds, are protected under state and federal laws.
Shelley Vickery, who helps run Birds In Helping Hands rescue. She said a paintball hit can do a lot of damage.
“They’re just such a beautiful bird. They’re so elegant. And they’re very fragile too. So that’s concerning to us,” Vickery said.
Vickery’s Facebook page is lighting up as supporters express their outrage. She believes, whoever is responsible could be a danger to others.
“I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for their family because this is not a safe person. This is not a stable person,” she said.
Steven Cook is seeing birds with fresh paint on them, a sign the shooter is still out there. He plans to offer a reward to catch him.
“One way or the other, we’re gonna catch this person,” he said.
Investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are on the case.
With more egrets being hit with paintballs, finding the shooter is a priority.