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BIG PINE KEY, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities are investigating the deaths of several brown pelicans found with their pouches slashed in the Florida Keys.

Florida Keys Wildlife Refuge Director Maya Totman said Friday that 10 pelicans have been found dead.

The birds are being found with the large pouches they use to catch food almost entirely cut through. The pelicans are left unable to hunt and swallow their food, leading them to starve to death slowly.

Totman said some pelicans also have been spotted flying around with their pouches slashed, raising concerns more could die.

The birds with slashed pouches have been found from Sugarloaf Key to Key West.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating.