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Do Not Pick Up Sick or Dying Common Murres, Say Oregon Coast Biologists

Published 08/17/23 at 5:1 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Do Not Pick Up Sick or Dying Common Murres, Say Oregon Coast Biologists

(Charleston, Oregon) – It's the season for babies of all kinds on the Oregon coast, including fledgling common murres. (Photo Seaside Aquarium)

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However, as happens in nature, some of them get sick and start dying, even in view of humans. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said visitors will start seeing more of this, and even commercial fishermen are reporting it at sea.

However, ODFW biologists say it's important to not try and rescue them.

This year's event is worse than usual, biologists concede. Warm ocean temps are creating conditions out there that are bad for their food sources. Another factor, say Oregon coast officials, is that last year saw an incredibly large population surge as well.

The common murre little ones are trying to survive on their own for the first, which is always rough for any species.

Biologists say most of the young birds they’ve seen appear to be starving or cold, however samples were sent to ODFW’s Wildlife Population Health Lab for further examination. Without proper nutrition, the young birds cannot maintain their body heat. And while ocean temperatures are warmer, the water is still below the average body temperature of these birds.

Biologists ask people to refrain from disturbing or picking up sick or dying birds to give them the best chance for survival. With a healthy and thriving population of common murres in Oregon, rehabilitation is not an option. People can report observations of sick or dead common murres to local ODFW offices.

An ODFW spokesman said there have been numerous issues with people bringing in sick birds to their facilities in recent days, which has become problematic.

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Above: courtesy ODFW. Below: murres nesting on Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach (courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

Above: courtesy Seaside Aquarium. Below: courtesy Roy Lowe, USFW

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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