SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Outrage is growing after video appears to show a man stuffing a wild duck from a Clairemont pond into his backpack and biking away.
On an afternoon two Saturdays ago, Robert Gaughen was outside his home, looking out at the pond in his Clairemont subdivision, when he saw a man feeding a duck.
“He was trying to get the duck to come up on land by slowly putting bread crumbs on the edge of the pond,” said Gaughen.
Gaughen went back inside, but moments later, a cellphone video was recorded by his neighbor.
In the video, the man is seen holding the duck with his left hand. From his backpack, he retrieved a plastic bag. He appeared to stuff the duck into the bag, before putting the bag into his backpack. The neighbor who was watching this unfold is incensed.
“What are you doing? Did you really just put the duck in there?” yelled the neighbor.
The man replied, “Yeah.”
The neighbor asked him, ”Why?” and the man answered, “to take its temperature.”
As the man prepared to leave, the neighbor became more incredulous.
“You put him in a bag so it can't breathe? … Put the duck back! What are you doing?” exclaimed the neighbor.
After the man biked away, the neighbor showed the video to Gaughen, who filed a report with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency spokesperson confirmed it's begun a probe to see if any crime was committed. Gaughen has lived near the pond for two decades.
“It's heartbreaking to see wildlife taken like this … It's like an oasis for the animals and the people to interact. To violate that trust between human and animal is just terrible. Heartless,” said Gaughen.
Around this time of year, there are usually dozens of ducks on the pond. This year, Gaughen says that number is around 10 and dropping, sparking his search for tips.
“I’m very suspicious someone has poached many of the ducks,” said Gaughen.
The neighbors didn't want to reveal the locations of the pond, to prevent trespassing.
Meanwhile, Fish and Wildlife officials say if a crime was committed, it could involve poaching or animal cruelty, with penalties ranging from jail time to fines.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call 888-334-2258.