Wildlife experts are left with more questions than answers after dozens of sick and dead birds were found in Dana Point this week.
"The number all in one day, it does seem a little high for one 24-36 hour period," said the Coastal Animal Service's Jennifer Stinett.
She's among the many looking into the bizarre incident, after an unusually high amount of seagulls and other birds were found dead or suffering from some unknown ailment on Doheny State Beach near San Juan Creek over the last few days.
Officers with the Dana Point-San Clemente Animal Shelter, with the Orange County Animal Services Authority, have collected some of the birds from the mouth of the river.
Other sick birds, that were expected to receive treatment at the Wetlands and Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach, didn't survive, adding to the staggering numbers of dead.
Experts have noted that there is an Avian Flu outbreak in Northern California and they're working to determine if it has any connection to the deaths in Orange County.
"It's just when there's that many sick and dead birds in one area, something's going on," said Debbie McGuire, the Executive Director of the Wetlands And Wildlife Center. "Did they get sick in that area? Possibly not, birds fly. It could be that they got sick outside of that area and that's where they go to roost and it hit them."
Beachgoers in Dana Point were concerned that the mystery illness could extend to their beloved pets.
"I think it's a crazy thought if there's something out there that's killing the birds and the wildlife, it's kinda scary if we bring the dogs to the beach," said Julie Timmins. "Is that going to affect our dogs?"
That remains to be seen, all of which will remain under investigation over the coming days.
"There's various pathogens that can go around just the bird community, or if this was a matter of contaminated water," Stinett said. "We certainly need to know that for the safety of the community and those utilizing our beaches."
More than half a dozen of the dead birds will be sent to a laboratory in Central California, where necropsies and testing will be done to try and determine the cause of death.
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