Junk Food Ban Weighed -- For Seagulls

Categories: Animals
Seagulls are mysteriously dying by the dozens at Pier 94 rendering plant after feasting on offal, and the Board of Supervisors has been urged to enforce a larine version of a junk food ban.

At its Feb. 10 meeting, the city's Animal Care & Control Commission introduced a draft version of a letter to city supervisors, asking them to alert people of the unusually high death rate of Western Gulls near Pier 94.

Pier 94 hosts a plant that chews up and boils animal carcasses to produce tallow, meat meal, and bone meal. Over the last few years, an unusual number of seagull carcasses have turned up near the plant.

Tallow can soak birds feathers, making them vulnerable to the cold. Bird necropsies have discovered Cholera, Salmonella, Aspergillosis, and rodenticides in corpses.

Last fall, city and state officials announced a joint investigation into the cause, with experts from the Port of San Francisco, Animal Care and Control, the State Department of Fish and Game, and the Golden Gate Audubon trying to resolve the problem.

Yet members of the city's Animal Control and Welfare Commission claim that "Fish and Game has been working on this issue without resolution as has the Port of San Francisco," according to the Feb. 10 draft letter.

Meanwhile, "it's routine to see numerous gulls foraging in the unloading yard of the animal rendering plant on Amador Street," the letter states. "In human terms, whatever is killing the birds represents a dangerous condition and could also potentially be harmful to humans."

Indeed, it might harm humans if they were to forage for food in the unloading yard of an animal rendering plant; that's the animal kingdom's version of a McDonald's restaurant counter.

Perhaps, a seagull junk food ban is in order.

If San Francisco can ban McDonald's from using toys to fool kids into eating junk food, it can at least try to prevent a rendering plant from attracting seagulls to pick at the unhealthy offal.

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