State wildlife officials are searching the area for California gulls and other birds that may have been poisoned Wednesday night.

Division of Wildlife Resources Sgt. John Pratt said a man allegedly laced french fries with a chemical because he felt the gulls were a nuisance in the parking lot of Burger Bar, 5291 S. 1900 West.At least 24 sick and dead gulls already have been found, including five dead birds and five sick ones in the restaurant parking lot.

Joe Feaster of Roy said he saw the first incidents of poisoning Wednesday night after watching a man throw food to the birds in the restaurant's parking lot.

"The birds were suddenly vomiting and throwing up what looked like their entire insides," he said. "It was pitiful, and I called the police."

Wildlife Resources officer Lee Fielding has responded to the incident and contacted a man who may be responsible. If convicted, the man could face charges for state wildlife violations.

Anyone who sees a bird or animal who is not behaving normally in the Roy area should contact wildlife officials.

Fielding believes the birds may have been poisoned and cautioned that sick birds or other animals should not be handled. The chemicals may be harmful to humans and other mammals.

"At the present time, we believe the poison that killed the birds is an agent used to kill grubs in cattle," Fielding said.

Officers are searching for affected birds in what Pratt calls a "ring of death." Though only gulls have been affected so far, he said other birds such as hawks could die from scavenging or preying on birds that have eaten the tainted fries.

Pratt said there was a similar poisoning incident in west Weber County about five years ago. That incident killed birds in a one-mile area.

Although congregating gulls may be a nuisance or aggravation, they are federally protected like all migratory birds.

Fielding said the gulls were congregating in the area because people had been feeding them. He believes such problems can be avoided if people do not feed them and also keep dumpsters and garbage cans covered.

Anyone with information on the poisoning or on sick or dead birds should call the Division of Wildlife Resources, 476-2740.