The Animal Legal Defense Fund announced a $ 5,000 award on Thursday for information on the person (s) who operated a drone that crashed in May at the nesting sites at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach .
About 3,000 elegant terns – notable for their orange bill and black crest – fled the reserve after the mid-May crash. They left behind 1,500 to 2,000 unrecoverable eggs, the biggest abandonment that the scientists working there can remember.
Drone operators that fly over state wildlife sanctuaries and disrupt habitats may face charges of destruction of nests and harassment of wildlife, according to Officer Nick Molsberry of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Tim Daly, a spokesperson for the agency, said he had no knowledge of the identification of the drone operator in the Bolsa Chica incident or of the return of the birds to the reserve, which spans over 1,000 acres.
“We have no new developments to report, it is still under investigation,” he said.
The same week of the crash, another drone crashed in Bolsa Chica near the nesting sites. But in this case, the drone operator showed up and received a citation.
“Sanctuaries, like the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, are established so that wildlife has a safe place – away from urban sprawl, light pollution and other human interference – to thrive under natural conditions,” he said. said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. “The blatant disregard for the law and the welfare of these birds and their offspring is a concern we all should share.”