Officials are investigating the deaths of nearly 30 herring seagulls in Ocean City. The seagulls crashed down into traffic on the Route 52 bridge that links Ocean City to Somers Point.
“I’m noticing the birds are with broken legs, broken backs and broken wings,” said Bill Hollingsworth of the Humane Society of Ocean City.
Hollingsworth tells NBC10 the Humane Society could only save one of the seagulls that crashed into the road.
“I’ve heard of crows and blackbirds dying in large numbers in the area in the past,” said Hank Guenther of Somers Point. “But this is the first time I’ve heard of anybody getting even with the seagulls.”
One theory is that the birds are flying from the guardrail of the bridge on the shoulder of the northbound lanes and getting drawn back down by a wind current. Around 50 birds are normally perched on the bridge. A spokesman with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, which opened the new $400 million bridge in May, called the deadly toll on the birds, “highly unusual.” He also claimed it never happened on the 2500 bridges the department oversees statewide.
While the cause of the bird deaths has not yet been determined, officials are most concerned for the safety of motorists traveling on the Route 52 causeway.
“They’re not little birds,” said Hollingsworth. “So if they hit a car windshield, you don’t know if someone can lose control and cause a major traffic accident on the causeway.”
Police say no accidents have been caused by the seagulls so far. The Department of Transportation says it will monitor the situation to see what can be done to prevent further seagull deaths and injuries.