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June 29, 2006

Looking for tern death clues

IFAW offers $10,000 reward after hundreds of baby terns wash up dead

Yarmouth Port, Mass.

tern photo

Surviving Elegant Tern. (IBRRC photo)

O n June 28, reports of dead baby terns on the shores of Long Beach send wildlife rescue professionals and vets from the near by International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) to investigate.  What they found was shocking and horrifying.  An estimated 300-500 baby terns, some only a day old were dead in the surf, and littering the beach. 13 live baby terns were found and rushed to intensive care at IBRRC’s center in San Pedro. 

The California Department of Fish & Game and the U.S Coast Guard also responded and are trying to determine if the baby birds were forced off the barge, located in the Los Angeles Harbor. Because the birds are protected by Federal Migratory bird laws, and animal cruelty is a felony in California, if this act was intentionally human caused, it is an extremely serious crime.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has posted a $10,000 reward for information on this event. Anyone that would help investigators is asked to phone the Department of Fish and Game's CalTIP hotline (Californians Turn-In Poachers and Polluters), at 888-DFG-CALTIP (888-334-2258).

Approximately 2,000 Elegant and Caspian terns nest in a breeding colony near Long Beach. The colony is a tourist attraction in the area and known for its status as the northern-most colony of terns. Terns are migratory birds that winter in Central and South America and breed mostly on small islands off the coast of Baja California.

The dead birds were all less than a month old and appeared free of disease. IFAW has also offered $5,000 for the care and rehabilitation of rescued terns. IFAW and IBRRC work closely in partnership responding to oil spills and other disasters that affect animals around the world.


IBRRC has been helping birds around the world since 1971. Its mission is to mitigate human impact on aquatic birds and other wildlife. This is achieved through rehabilitation, emergency response, education, research, planning and training.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW works around the globe to protect animals and their habitats and to create a better world for animals and people. See: IFAW website

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