Drone crash leads to large-scale seabird nest loss

Elegant tern chicks and adults. Credit: Brian Collins/USFWS

A drone operator flying the device in an illegal protected sanctuary caused seabirds to abandon hundreds of eggs after the drone crashed to the ground among the nests in California. Elegant terns (Thalasseus elegans), listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, migrate between California and northern Mexico and Central and South America every year. The birds nest in the coastal area of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Southern California. But the drone crash in May scared the birds from their nests in the sand. The terns didn’t return, leading to the loss of about 1,500 eggs, wildlife scientists said.  “In my 20 years of working with wildlife and in the field, I have never seen such devastation,” Melissa Loebl, an environmental scientist and manager of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, told The New York Times. Wildlife officials are seeking information about the drone’s operator. Loebl said this isn’t the first drone crash to disturb the area — another crashed just a couple of days earlier in the reserve.

Read more at The New York Times.