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Bizarre bird death mystery in Milwaukee solved by DNR investigation

Posted at 10:47 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 22:43:06-04

MILWAUKEE — A mystery is brewing in Milwaukee when it comes to dead birds. Hundreds of gulls have shown up dead on downtown streets. It prompted an investigation by the Department of Natural Resources.

Anthony Paige, a supervisor at a Milwaukee business near 5th and Galena Streets, said at first he saw a few dead birds when he came into work. By the end of the month though, he had seen hundreds on the sidewalks and streets in the entire area.

"We come in and they are laying here. They are laying in the lot. They are laying on the side. They are laying in the grass. So we don't know why but there is a lot of dead birds," Paige said.

He said his company has tried to clean up the ones they could.

"It looks really gross," said Paige. "We don't know why they are dying like that. It's been a mystery."

DNR wildlife biologist Dianne Robinson was called in to investigate. She believes this year, the gulls picked a place too close to the busy roads to nest. And Robinson believes it's largely the juvenile birds that are dying.

"They aren't necessarily able to fly just yet. So they leave the nest, but they are still moving around on their feet. And it looks like what is probably happening is because they are right there in the city they are getting struck by vehicles," Robinson said.

She said in all her time at the DNR she has never seen so many gulls die in such a short period of time, bBut she also says there is no risk to the ecosystem because of this even though

"I feel bad. I'm an animal lover. I feel real bad for them," said Robinson.

Robinson recommends that drivers slow down and never assume a bird will fly away when they see a bird on the roadway, so they do not hit and kill one or damage their own car.