VAN NUYS ( — A transient pleaded not guilty Friday to one felony count of animal cruelty after allegedly killing a pelican with his bare hands.

30-year-old Sergio Alvarez’s bail was also increased from $20,000 to $30,000 following his appearance in a Van Nuys courtroom.

A deputy was flagged down by a witness around 5:50 p.m. Wednesday near the Malibu Pier in the 23000 block of Pacific Coast Highway.

The witness said Alvarez had a pelican by its throat and was choking it with both hands.

“Witnesses told deputies the pelican flapped its wings in distress until its body went limp and died,” Lt. Robert Wiard said.

Alvarez, who is known to frequent the Malibu Pier area, was arrested.

Authorities said the suspect was going to eat the pelican because he couldn’t catch any fish.

“He said he was hungry. And he found the bird dead and was going to eat it,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Holland.

The California Wildlife Center took possession of the dead pelican.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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