New Jersey

Philadelphia Firefighter to Pay Fine in Seagull Death in Sea Isle City

A 29-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department agreed to a last minute plea deal

What to Know

  • Several seagull species are common to the Jersey Shore. While none are endangered, they are "protected" migratory birds.
  • Intentionally killing a seagull in New Jersey requires permits from federal and state agencies.
  • Frost's case is not the only one to occur at the shore this summer. Ocean City police, also in August, investigated an alleged gull killing.

A Philadelphia firefighter pleaded guilty to a disorderly person charge and will pay a fine after he faced jailtime for killing a sea gull at the Jersey Shore. 

Here's something that may surprise those of us familiar with the Shore: Seagulls are state- and federally-protected animals.

And killing one of them, even accidentally, can get you jammed up in court.

Edward Frost, a 29-year veteran of the fire department, was vacationing on the Sea Isle City beach in August with his wife and son when he allegedly threw an object — some say a rock, some say a shell — at a gull in the middle of a crowded beach, killing the bird.

On Thursday, Frost appeared in a Sea Isle City municipal courtroom where he took an agreement with the prosecutor and agreed to pay a $250 fine. 

He had faced two disorderly persons charges issued by a local animal cruelty investigator and potentially up to six months in jail and fines for allegedly hitting a gull with a shell.

Frost said he didn't mean to hurt the bird and apologized in court Thursday.

"He is a good person and did not intend any harm to any creature whatsoever," his lawyer, Richard Bobbe III said in court.

"It's absolutely not accidental when you get up out of your chair, walk to a group of seagulls that are federally protected birds and throw a rock," Nicole Buck, a witness to the incident who tried to save the bird, said. 

There are several species of seagull common to New Jersey. While two types of smaller shore birds, known as terns, are on the state’s endangered species list, no seagull species are. Still, seagulls are protected animals.

A spokesman with the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Agency said that means killing the birds intentionally is prohibited, unless you get permission.

That requires a federal permit and a state permit. Obtaining those permits requires “a specific and justified purpose,” Fish and Wildlife spokesman Robert Geist said.

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