More than 100 birds died in Protection Island fire, wildlife manager says

DISCOVERY BAY — Although the fire that burned three acres of Protection Island was quickly brought under control Thursday, there still was wildlife loss on the nature refuge, a federal official disclosed Friday.

More than 100 pigeon guillemot chicks were killed in the fire on the west end of the island, Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge Manager Kevin Ryan said.

A number of young black oystercatchers also died, he said.

Neither species is considered endangered, but officials who monitor the isolated refuge are upset over the deaths.

“We are very disturbed by this senseless loss of young seabirds whose populations are already facing significant reductions in the Puget Sound,” Ryan said.

Firefighters stopped the fire before it could spread up a bluff, where thousands of tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets make their nests.

Origin unknown

It is still unknown how the fire started.

Earlier this summer, a separate fire was started by illegal campers on the island.

There is a 200-yard barrier around the island that cannot be entered without special permission.

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