Wires are expected to keep gulls off the railings of the Route 52 causeway, where dozens have been found dead since it opened in mid-May.
More than 30 birds were found dead in July alone, Department of Transportation spokesman Joe Dee said Friday. Birds suffered injuries such as broken backs, broken feet and broken wings, the Humane Society of Ocean City has said. Most of the birds found injured are euthanized. Dee did not have the number of dead birds found in August.
Consultants think that the birds are perching on the railings and then flying into cars, Dee said.
“The consultant found that the birds were flying close to cars,” he said. “They didn’t see any birds actually get struck by a car, but they were getting close. It was determined that the birds were perching on the railings, which are about the height of car windshields. ... The idea is to prevent them from landing there.”
The same consultant who worked on the new causeway, Amy S. Greene, worked with wildlife experts, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service and other experts to determine the potential cause of the gull deaths, Dee said.
The Rainbow Island portion is the causeway’s lowest point, and gulls rest on the railings there to catch fiddler crabs. By stringing wire about five inches above the railing, the DOT hopes to prevent birds from landing.
“So then the birds can't land on the railing because the wire gets in their way,” Dee said. “We'll be stringing two wires parallel to each other for a total length of about 800 feet. It will be in the next month or so. We'll have to buy the hardware and then it will be installed by the people who built the bridge.”
The DOT initially considered placing spikes on the railing to deter the birds, but Dee said the wire technique has been tested and proven effective in other locations.
Members of the Humane Society of Ocean City check the causeway for gulls on a regular basis. In early August, they issued an advisory, urging motorists to look out for the birds while driving across the bridge.
On similar bridges, such as the Route 72 causeway into Seaside Heights and the Route 37 causeway to Seaside Heights, only a few birds are found each year. It is unclear why those causeways do not have the same problem.
There was never an issue with dead seagulls on the old causeways between Ocean City and Somers Point.
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