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Baby gulls trying to learn to fly get killed on city streets. How can we change this kind of thing from happening, and share the world with wildlife?

- by Wanda Baxter, inspired by the quoted article printed in the Telegraph Journal, Saint John, August, 2017

There are way too many reports that are equally or more heartbreaking as is the following report, and most people won't think about it for even a minute. Most will dismiss caring about things like the injury and mortality of wildlife on our roads the overblown drama of bleeding hearts. (an article printed in the Telegraph Journal follows, with commentary from W4W following that).

Baby Gulls are being creamed on Saint John Streets

 

"A Saint John woman is pleading with drivers not to run over baby seagulls on the city's uptown streets.

Trudy Clark said she's noticed a number of young gulls this year on Germain Street, on the block between between King and Union streets.

Two of the birds were recently struck by cars, she said. One was killed and the other was injured, unable to fly.

Clark said the birds "can't quite manage the uptown area."

"Perhaps we could just shout out to people using that block to beware of these new baby seagulls," she said.

"It would be a lovely thing if we could show a little bit respect for these new birds."

Jim Wilson, a birder in Quispamsis, said the birds are likely herring gulls, the most common gulls in Saint John and off the coast.

Germain Street between King and Union streets has been popular with the birds.

In recent years, Wilson said, there has been an increased number of the birds on local streets, and they've taken to nesting on the tops of buildings, particularly uptown.

"They'll bring nesting material in on top of the roof because it's hard for predators to get there," he said.

In May and June, Wilson has also noticed gulls nesting near the Reversing Falls in Saint John.

Learning to fly

More typically, he said, gulls will nest on islands in the Bay of Fundy to avoid predators.

"This is something that has probably evolved, more so in recent years," he said of the uptown nesting.

'They don't know about traffic, they don't know about people, so they end up being run over or struck by cars or having some injuries.' -Jim Wilson

Wilson said this time of year, the birds are learning to fly and likely are practising on the roof.

However, they are fairly weak when they start out, he said.

"If they haven't learned to fly really well, they can easily get down on the street," he said. "They don't know about traffic, they don't know about people, so they end up being run over or struck by cars or having some injuries."

Once the birds fly from the nest and are out on their own, they can also have a hard time finding regular sources of food. The birds can weaken and aren't as strong as gulls that live offshore and have easier access to food.

"It's learning to fly and maybe being a little bit weakened because you haven't had as much food," he said.

Being more aware

Wilson agreed that drivers need to be more aware of gulls in the area.

While most people respect wildlife, he said, they often don't notice it on city streets.

If people happen to see an injured gull, they can send it to a veterinarian to see if something can be done.

______

This story (reprinted from the Saint John Telegraph Journal) is not only difficult because of the injury and death of baby seagulls, but because this kind of thing happens on roads all the time, everywhere across the country and across the world, and we (as a culture, road makers, policy makers, people walking by, drivers, drivers who hit wildlife and keep going without a thought or a look in the rearview ... ) we aren't trying to figure out how to reduce the collisions and the suffering and loss of wildlife in our wake. We just go about our day.

But we are living in a world where species are going extinct. And driving into young seagulls on the street is a symbol of a greater problem: the way we live is deadly to many creatures and the world itself. and we aren't changing the way we live.


What can we do to live safely with wildlife? How could collisions with these baby gulls and other species like ducklings and geese be avoided? We'd love to hear your ideas.

Two letters we've received tell similar stories as the article above. We'll share them in a coming blog.

We can share the world with wildlife. We can. We just aren't trying very hard. At least not yet.

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