BELFAST — One of two seagulls Belfast Police attempted to save after it was discovered injured was euthanized by Avian Haven due to its injuries, according to Sergeant John Gibbs.
Two injured birds were reported to police Sept. 14 by bystanders, who said that there were two birds near Thompson’s Wharf that were unable to fly. After corralling the birds, they were transported to Avian Haven in Freedom by Avian Haven volunteer Norman Schulz.
Avian Haven is a wild bird rehabilitation center and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1999. Since that time the annual caseload seen by the center has reportedly increased from 300 to “about 2,000,” according to their site.
The rehabilitation center features an indoor infirmary space, including a full kitchen and food supplies to meet the dietary needs of any avian species. There are also incubators, hospital and recovery cages, two flight cages, and veterinary equipment, among other items to help their ailing, feathery clientele.
An employee at Avian Haven said that the deceased bird had what appeared to be a wound from an airsoft rifle, though she stressed they did not remove anything from the gull’s wing and the assessment is an educated guess based on the size and shape of the wound.
The other seagull injured suffered at least a fractured clavicle and will continue to be cared for by Avian Haven.
Gibbs said Belfast Police have taken a number of birds to Avian Haven over the years, including seagulls, owls, grouses, turkey vultures, and songbirds.
“[Avian Haven is] a great resource,” he said.
It is illegal to kill or take wild birds unless they are specifically allowed under hunting laws and regulations. Seagulls are not on the list of birds approved for hunting.
Title 12 is the Maine regulation that deals with wildlife, hunting laws and regulations.
In addition to Title 12, there are two federal statutes, the Lacey Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, protecting wildlife from illegal slaughter and taking.
More than eight hundred species of birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it “unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell ‘migratory birds,’” according to Maine.gov.
“This act does not discriminate between living or dead birds and also grants protection to any bird parts, including feathers, eggs, and nests.”
The Lacey Act “prohibits the trade of wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. It underscores other federal, state, and foreign laws protecting wildlife by making it an additional offense to take, possess, transport or sell wildlife taken in violation of these laws.”
Most gulls are considered migratory birds, with breeding Herring Gulls, which are the most common variety in Maine, migrating south for the winter.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org