A man made disaster in California has devastated an ecological reserve and wiped out what one wildlife officer called “a full generation of birds not established.”

It happened at the Bolsa Chics Wildlife Preserve in California when a drone crashed into a bird nesting ground.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Some 3,000 elegant terns fled the reserve after the drone crashed May 12, leaving behind 1,500 to 2,000 eggs, none of them viable.” 

Eggs littered the sand, but there was no sign of life around or in them.

The seabirds that should have been keeping watch had taken off, terrified by a drone that crash-landed into their nesting grounds on an island at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

“We’ve never seen such devastation here,” said Melissa Loebl, an environmental scientist who manages the Huntington Beach reserve. “This has been really hard for me as a manager.”

The New York Times adds, “The elegant tern, which is classified as a near-threatened species, is among roughly 800 species of plants and animals that rely on the reserve as a critical habitat.”

There are a lot of restrictions around reserves such as no bikes, no dogs, and no drones. This is all done to protect the species there. Authorities are hoping to use data accessed on the drone to track down whoever is responsible. If caught the person will reportedly be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

Watch more above from CBS Los Angeles.