Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) law enforcement personnel are seeking information following the shooting of an American white pelican on Mill Lake in the town of Land O’ Lakes on the afternoon of Saturday, July 27.

DNR conservation warden Tim Price, who is investigating the incident, said the pelican was seriously injured as a result of the shooting and the bird had to be euthanized.

“We are pretty certain that the shots came from a boat about 4:45 p.m. on July 27,” said Price. 

A witness told Price the pelican, which is rare in this area, had been seen on the lake for about a week and a half leading up to the incident. 

Mill Lake is located near the Wisconsin-Michigan border on the north side of Highway B just west of downtown Land O’ Lakes. Mill Lake is connected to Landing Lake by a navigable channel, though neither lake has a public boat landing.

Price said he has a few leads about the incident on the north end of Mill Lake.

“We are pretty certain the shots, about six of them, came from a pontoon boat,” said Price. “The pontoon, with four or more people on board, took off from Mill Lake and went through the channel toward Landing Lake.” 

Price said anyone with information about the incident can call him at (715) 892-0054 or the DNR’s confidential hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR. 

Adult American white pelicans are snowy white with black flight feathers visible only when the wings are spread. The long bill and legs are yellow-orange. Immatures are mostly white as well, but the head, neck, and back are variably dusky. The length of the massive white bird is 50 to 65 inches, with a wingspan of 96 to 114 inches. 

They typically breed on islands in shallow wetlands in the interior of the continent. In Wisconsin, pelicans nest on Cat Island near Green Bay, islands on Lake Butte des Morts, and in the Horicon Marsh refuge. They spend winters mainly on coastal waters, bays and estuaries, or a little distance inland.

While they are viewed as rare in northern Wisconsin, experts say white pelicans are expanding their migratory range.