More birds have been found dead on a nesting island just off the Maine coast.
The state is seeing a surge of bird flu cases, adding that this has been one of the worst waves in recent years, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Sean Murphy took a video on Gooseberry Island, off the coast of Biddeford, showing a clearly sick seagull unable to fly.
He said he found nearly 50 birds and their chicks either dead or dying.
“We’re talking, you know, into the hundreds of birds that have died along the Maine coast,” said Mark Latti, a spokesperson for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Certainly over the past two weeks, we’ve seen a surge in that.”
READ MORE AVIAN FLU COVERAGE
Maine Audubon noted last month that it was getting more reports of dead birds along the ocean.
“But it has been pretty widespread,” Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist Doug Hitchcox said. “There have been a lot of reports over the last few weeks of those gulls and things like shearwaters also washing up on beaches.”
Game wardens suspect avian flu is likely the cause, but they are looking at other possibilities as well because so many birds have died.
“And we’re testing for other pathogens as well because in Maine and in other states, some of these dead and dying birds have tested negative for avian influenza,” Latti said.
As the weather warms, game wardens expect these mass die-offs are going to become less frequent.
“If people find birds in a public space, please notify us,” Latti said. “And also, if you find one on your own property and you want to get rid of it, please handle it properly. That means using personal protection gear such as gloves and masks, throw it in a plastic bag in your trash to take care of it.”