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More seagulls shot with darts spotted in Oceano

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 23:04:12-04

Another seagull has been found wounded by a metal dart in Oceano.

It’s the fourth California Gull recently found with injuries but this bird is said to be in the worst condition so far.

The first injured bird was initially noticed about three weeks ago at the Oceano Dunes.

On Friday, another bird was brought in for treatment.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has since launched an investigation into who might have done this.

“A string of this many birds being shot, I don’t know of it ever happening in this county where we’ve had this many birds to be shot,” said Lt. Matthew Gil, Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Pacific Wildlife Care is treating the rescued birds. So far, it has released one back into the wild.

“This latest one today, unfortunately, right in the back of his head looks like where he was hit by the dart,” said Dr. Shannon Riggs, Pacific Wildlife Care Staff Veterinarian.

Dr. Riggs says Friday’s case is the most dire they’ve had so far. She doesn’t know if he’ll make it.

“He’s having some pretty serious neurological problems associated with that and I’m afraid he might also be blind,” Dr. Riggs said.

“Here’s a blow dart that was taken off the seagull today. You can see it has a broad head at the tip here which is going into the seagull. They’ve been going about this far. This one went in about an inch,” Lt. Gil explained.

Two other birds treated at the Morro Bay facility had darts through their wings. The third had a dart below its eye.

Lt. Gil says dart guns are illegal and being caught with one is a misdemeanor.

“They come in different colors. We’ve been taking documentations of the birds by the color of the blow darts. You can see here’s another one from another bird. It was a lighter green. They’ve come in white, orange, red,” Gil said.

At least four other birds have been spotted in Oceano with darts but have not yet been rescued.

Seagull shot with metal dart. (Photo courtesy California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife)


Pacific Wildlife Care says this is the largest number of birds they’ve seen at one time with the same type of injury.

“Someone out there intentionally injuring these birds for no good reason as far as I’m concerned, it’s just malicious,” Dr. Riggs said.

“It’s more of an animal cruelty issue at this point, especially as the birds are not dying, they’re not taken, they’re being put in pain and suffering,” Lt. Gil added.

Fish and Wildlife says it’s believed the birds were all shot with the same gun.

If you have any information, call the anonymous tip line at 1-888-334-CalTIP.

Pacific Wildlife Care says its biggest expense when treating the birds is their food because they eat fish and insects that need to be purchased. The medical treatment is relatively inexpensive, according to veterinary staff.

If you find an injured bird, contact Pacific Wildlife Care at 805-543-WILD.

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Seagulls injured by metal darts found in Oceano