More than a thousand bird eggs were abandoned at a California beach after two drones crashed, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said.
Around 1,500 elegant tern eggs were abandoned at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach after two drones crashed into the nest, KABC reported.
“In my career, I have never seen such devastation, so that was really hard,” Melissa Loebl, the environmental scientist reserve manager with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the station.
Officials said after the two drones crashed into the nest, people also disrupted the area when they went to recover the drones, KABC reported. Around 3,000 elegant terns abandoned the area.
Drones, dogs and bikes are prohibited at the ecological reserve, the department said on Facebook.
“We are heartbroken by this news; and we hope you will spread awareness about the impact of drones, dogs, and bikes on plants and wildlife. Please remember that drones, dogs, and bikes are prohibited on the reserve, and we urge you to always stay on official trails and pick up after yourself when you visit,” the post reads.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is home to 23 endangered or threatened plant and animal species, including the California Least Tern, Ridgway’s Rail, Western Snowy Plover and Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, CBS Los Angeles reported.
A recent increase in visitors during the pandemic has spurred a spike in after-hours violations, including graffiti, destroyed fences and animals and plants being illegally harvested, according to the station. The presence of dogs has also impacted the breeding, migration and nesting of wild birds.
“While CDFW understands the attraction of this beautiful facility, the agency is urging visitors be more protective of the sensitive habitats and wildlife species that exist at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve,” the agency said in a statement, according to CBS Los Angeles.