Group wants $3,500 to help collared birds

The seagulls have been spotted at Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz and Half Moon Bay. (By Lana Ellis)

November 7, 2010 7:30:05 PM PST
About five birds in the Bay Area collared with cut beer cans have been spotted since August, and a concerned group now seeks $3,500 in donations to catch the birds and cut the cans off their necks.

"We did catch up with one of the gulls with a beer can around its neck," said Rebecca Dmytryk, director of WildRescue, a project aimed at helping animals.

"We spent yesterday and a good part of today trying to lure it close, but no dice," she said in statement. "We are pretty much at a loss without a very special piece of equipment -- a net launcher."

The Coda Netlauncher that WildRescue organizers seek costs about $3,500, and would enable safe capture of seagulls. Dmytryk and others could then cut off the beer cans and send the gulls back into the wild.

"Please don't try to catch the birds. If you miss, and you probably will, you'll frighten them more. They're already frightened because they've been tortured," Dmytryk said.

People spotted the birds at Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz in San Francisco, and in an undisclosed location in Half Moon Bay.

The first report was in September, but it wasn't made public because they hoped that it was an isolated incident, Dmytryk said. Now that more reports have come in, WildRescue and International Bird Rescue of Fairfield are asking the public for help in finding the birds.

"They're going to hang out, usually at a pier or a marina where they can get food easily," Dmytryk said.

Sightings should be reported to a dedicated paging service, (831) 429-2323, or emailed to rescue@wildrescue.org.

Two separate anonymous donors are offering $1,000 each, for a total of $2,000, for the arrest and prosecution of the person, or persons, committing these crimes.

"This is a federal crime punishable by severe fines, imprisonment, or both," Dmytryk said.

The cans pose multiple risks to the birds. They won't be able to preen to keep clean, the cans could get caught on something, and they may not be able to eat.

Both organizations are also looking for volunteers to help with this effort, and any other activities as a volunteer rescuer. Anyone interested will receive training and will be placed on an on-call list. There is a training scheduled for January. More information about the organizations can be found on their websites at www.wildrescue.org, and www.ibrrc.org.


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