Researchers from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will begin studying seagulls in Parksville’s beaches and parks next month.
The work will involve trapping Glaucous-winged Gulls, attaching tracking devices and collecting blood and feather samples. The researchers, in a letter to council, said the project’s goal is to assess how the gulls’ habitat use and movements expose them to pollution and marine transportation.
“We are conducting wildlife research to better understand the health of the Salish Sea, an area of importance to both humans and wildlife,” reads the letter. “The Salish Sea is a key site for wintering marine birds and attracts birds from South America to Alaska.”
The samples will be tested to provide information about the birds’ diet and exposure to contaminants — the gulls will be released unharmed, the letter said.
ECCC received permission from council to study gulls earlier this year, but were unable to complete the study due to time constraints, according to the city.
The researchers are based in the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre in Delta and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
Glaucous-winged gull populations have been declining in B.C. since the 1990s — potentially due to increased predation by bald eagles, according to the federal government.