Substance found on Peninsula birds after hundreds in East Bay affected


An unidentified substance that has led to the deaths of at least 25 birds in the East Bay has also impacted birds on the Peninsula, a wildlife emergency response official said.

The viscous substance was confirmed Jan. 18 on birds along the Peninsula, according to Rebecca Dmytryk, executive director of the nonprofit Wildlife Emergency Services.

Rescue crews on Jan. 20 were checking the Peninsula coastline between Foster City and Coyote Point to look for other distressed birds, she said.

The mysterious substance was reported Jan. 16 at multiple sites in Alameda County, including the Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, Hayward Regional Shoreline and at the San Leandro Marina, according to officials with International Bird Rescue, which has a rescue center in Fairfield.

At least 25 dead birds were brought to the Fairfield center, which has treated more than 240 others covered with the contaminant.

Tests have shown that the substance, which is apparently not petroleum-based, breaks down the birds' feather structure, preventing them from regulating their body temperatures in the cold Bay waters, leading to hypothermia or death, according to the nonprofit.

Several of the dead birds have been taken to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's lab in Sacramento to determine the cause of death and to try to identify the substance.

Wildlife Emergency Services officials are asking for volunteers to help find any other distressed birds in the region. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to fill out an application.

The public is advised to not attempt to capture distressed birds and to report any sightings to the organization at (831) 429-2323.

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