HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — A flock of seagulls was found dead and dying on Huntington State Beach last week, and wildlife experts believe they could have been sickened by toxins.

The 12 Western seagulls were found Thursday morning after the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center received a call of numerous birds lying on the beach.

“It was very emotional,” Donna Vanden Raadt, a volunteer with the organization said. “I actually cried all the way home.”

Vanden Raadt said she and two other volunteers rushed to the beach where they were able to gather all but two of the birds. She said those that were still alive were paralyzed and drooling.

“We just took off in different directions and tried to get the live ones first,” she said. “One died in my arms, that was really hard.”

Of the four the center was able to rescue on Thursday, only three survived.

“They couldn’t even lift their heads when they first came in,” John Villa, CFO for the center, said. “They are doing wonderful now. So they’re actually on their feet, moving around more natural.”

The wildlife center said it believes the birds were infected with some kind of toxin — possibly botulism — but volunteers could not say for sure how the bird came into contact with the toxin. Villa said that it was strange that only one species of seagull was affected, and even more strange that it was only seagulls between the ages of 2 and 4.

Vanden Raadt posted photos and the story on Facebook in hopes of raising money for the center that relies solely on donations to continue operations.

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