Scenes of man's inhumanity to bird are all too familiar to Tammy Vrettos of Gilbert, who spends much of her time caring for and placing ducks and geese rounded up from overcrowded lakes and ponds.
"I'm always appalled, but I'm never surprised," she said.
Vrettos is hoping an incident at Mesa's Emerald Park will alert a few more watchful eyes to keep it from happening again.
Saturday evening, she found a one-legged mallard that she said had been stabbed with a rusty metal rod that was still embedded in its body.
Vrettos said she brought the duck home to "stabilize" it. She then got it to a veterinarian, but the 15-inch rod had caused too much internal bleeding by the time it was removed and the bird died.
Mesa park ranger Steve Crider said this could be animal cruelty, which is punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail.
He said the city generally sees three to four cases a year of abuse of birds in a park, but perpetrators are rarely caught.
Wild mallards are a federally protected migratory species. However, Alicia Jontz, a law enforcement officer with the Arizona Fish and Game Department, said most ducks in urban areas aren't covered by wildlife protection laws.
"Not that that excuses it, but it wouldn't fall under our jurisdiction," she said.