Don't touch marine mammals. That was the message from Sharnelle Fee of the Wildlife Rehab Center of the North Coast

If there is a seal or other marine mammal on the beach, the Seaside Aquarium will post signs and monitor the animal. Call 738-6211 to report it.

Sea birds may need help, however. If people can approach without a bird flying away, it needs assistance. It can be picked up with a towel or other piece of cloth, held at waist level and placed in a well-ventilated box. The rehab center will take sea birds. Call 338-0331 for assistance.

"A lot of people think it's nature taking its course," said Fee. She does not agree, saying most injured sea birds are hurt by humans or human-related activities.

Fee said the center has a number of birds injured by getting entangled in fishing line. She asks fishers to pick up all fishing lines. "They cause very severe damage," she said.

People should watch for young sea birds who may be learning to fly and get blown into the roadway, she said.

It is legal to discourage a nest being built near a home by blocking off the site, but once an egg is laid, the nest is protected by federal law until the babies are grown and fly away, Fee said. Baby birds should be put back into their nests if they fall out, she said. Contrary to popular belief, the parents will not reject them.

No stranded animal should be given food or water unless the wildlife center has been consulted first.


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