A California homeless man has been convicted of strangling a brown pelican to death near the Malibu Pier.
Police say that Sergio Alvarez, 30, initially said he found the bird already dead, Daily News Los Angeles reports. Later, he allegedly admitted that he had killed the pelican because he was hungry and hadn’t been able to catch any fish.
A passerby approached a sheriff’s deputy on the evening of August 22, saying that he had spotted a man choking a pelican. Witnesses said Alvarez had his hands around the bird’s throat, and that the animal was flapping its wings in distress before going completely limp, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Alvarez was arrested and booked into jail on $20,000 bail, the Daily Mail reported.
On Friday, Alvarez pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of of animal cruelty to a bird, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and one year’s probation, according to the Associated Press.
While brown pelicans are no longer considered an endangered, they are a fully protected species in California.