- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Common murre seabirds are challenging rescue workers as they make their way inland, becoming stranded and hungry.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (https://bit.ly/22FA39f) Alaska Wildlife Troopers have been overwhelmed while the Anchorage nonprofit Bird Treatment and Learning Center is housing between 300 and 350 of the birds.

Volunteers have been hand-feeding the birds and re-waterproofing their wings to return to sea.

Executive Director Guy Rundo called the shift unprecedented as sightings spread north from southcentral Alaska. He said whatever is driving the seabirds inland is a mystery, while some say warmer weather, difficult fishing conditions or strong winds could be the cause.

“What we’re finding is they’re not sick or injured, but they’re not eating well,” he said. “I’m not really putting my finger on the wind. It’s not that bad and not bad enough to push them up to Fairbanks.”

Local mushers have found four birds that were taken in by Cantwell resident Lynn McAloon and her sister Jill Boelsma this week. McAloon said Boelsma put a cooler filled with water inside a pen for the birds before they were moved out Saturday.

They said Alaska Wildlife Troopers allowed them to care for the animals.

“There’s a lot of them up here,” McAloon said. “We actually saw three when we went into Cantrell.”

The black and white birds need water to take flight. Rundo said to leave common murres found near water alone, but to try and bring inland birds to the treatment center.

“We’ll fatten them up as quickly as we can and get them right out back to the ocean and hope for the best,” Rundo said.

Call the Alaska Wildbird Rehabilitation Center to report sightings north of Anchorage.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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