Staff at an East Vancouver tofu processing plant were surprised to discover more than 70 seagulls trapped inside a vat holding a waste tofu byproduct. 

Collin Chan, the marketing and sales director at Superior Tofu, says nothing like this has ever happened before at the company.

The seagulls have been a persistent problem, he says, because they like eating the fibrous pulp left behind after the tofu has been processed. 

The byproduct is nutritious, which is why the company has an arrangement with a farmer who takes it away to feed his cattle.

Stuck seagulls

The seagulls have been a persistent problem, says the tofu company. (Harold Dupuis/CBC)

Despite the installation of several guard rails, nothing kept the birds out until the farmer tried a new design last week. 

Rita Cheng, the tofu company's president, says the birds were still able to get in, but not fly out. 

"I just didn't know the birds loved tofu this much. I know the dairy cows do, but now we know the birds love them too."

The Wildlife Rescue Association and the B.C. SPCA helped remove several injured and bloodied birds on Friday and took them away for treatment. 

The full extent of the injuries to the birds is yet to be determined. 

"It's obvious they've got soiling on their feathers, which will affect their waterproofing, and it could give them hypothermia if we don't treat them," said Yolanda Brooks, communications manager at the Wildlife Rescue Association.

Chan says the vats have now been covered up entirely with tarp to prevent birds and humans from getting in, and the Wildlife Rescue Association will work with the farmer to develop a long-term solution. 

Superior Tofu says it will also make a donation to the Wildlife Rescue Association and the SPCA for treatment of the birds.

Rita Cheng

"I just didn't know the birds loved tofu this much," said Superior Tofu president Rita Cheng. (Harold Dupuis/CBC)

With files from Jon Hernandez