Three dozen dead juvenile herring gulls were found at Deering Oaks Park over the past three weeks, and officials aren’t sure what killed them.
The deaths have been isolated to that particular kind of bird — the mallard ducks, black-backed gulls, ring-billed gulls and adult herring gulls that also frequent that park have apparently not suffered similar fates, according to a news release. A Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife employee this morning was watching a ring of birds floating on the pond in the park through a pair of large binoculars. He said that a few gulls have recently turned up with a bacterial infection, but declined to say more.
Three of the dead gulls were sent for testing to the National Wildlife Disease Lab in Wisconsin, and officials hope to know the cause of the mysterious deaths in the next seven to 10 days, according to the release.
Theses types of die-offs are common among nesting birds and usually result of a infection in an otherwise weakened population, said Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division director for IFW. The agency does not know what caused the death of these gulls, but Camuso said the signs are consistent with a run-of-the-mill bacterial infection, which would not be a threat to humans.
More worrisome avian diseases would be affecting all the birds in the park, not just the gulls, she said.
“The only real issue is that it’s in downtown Portland, rather than on a island somewhere no one would really see it,” said Camuso.
Officials are asking anyone who finds a dead bird in the Portland area to call 592-0605. Also, don’t touch the birds.