HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A drone crash scared off 3,000 elegant tern eggs at a Southern California
nesting island, according to a newspaper report Friday.
According to The Orange County Register, two drones were flown illegally over the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach in May, one of which crashed into the wetlands.
According to the state Department of Fish
, thousands of terns abandoned their ground nests due to predator attacks.
The sand is now littered with egg shells during the month when the white birds would be watching over their eggs as they hatch.
According to reserve manager Melissa Loebl, this is the largest-scale egg abandonment ever at the coastal site about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of San Diego
With the pandemic driving
outside, the Bolsa Chica reserve saw approximately 100,000 visitors last year, up from approximately 60,000 the previous year, according to Loebl.
This has led to an increase in not only drone activity, but also the presence of more dogs
and bicycles on the trails, all of which are prohibited.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in dogs, particularly off-leash dogs,” Loebl said, “which is devastating for wildlife, especially now that it’s prime nesting season, because the dogs chase the birds and the birds abandon their nests.”
Another issue is the construction of multimillion-dollar homes on the hillside at the north end of the reserve overlooking the wetlands, according to Fish and Wildlife warden Nick Molsberry, who added that while most residents respect the sensitive nature
of the estuary, there are a few scofflaws.
“It’s residents who feel entitled, who feel they should be able to use the land however they want,” Molsberry said, adding that authorities are increasing enforcement and citing those who violate the rules.
The reserve, which covers nearly 1,500 acres, is the largest saltwater marsh between Monterey Bay, just south of San Francisco
, and the Tijuana River Estuary in Mexico
, and it is home to over 800 species of plants