Forty years ago, they appeared, these refugees from the exotic pet trade. They managed to find a niche here, and today the monk parakeets are a vibrant part of Connecticut's web of life.
But the United Illuminating Company, in a $125,000 project, brought in contractors who seized the birds at night, then turned them over to agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These federal agents then asphyxiated the parrots in carbon dioxide chambers. After that, the Company began ripping down nests.
Backing this scheme were and the National Audubon Society and the Connecticut Audubon Society. These parties see the birds' nests, when built on utility poles, as hazardous. While we don't take that possibility lightly, it shouldn't mean death to the birds. Alternatives do exist.
Horrified by the roundups West Haven, Milford, Stratford, Bridgeport and Fairfield, Julie Cook and other Connecticut residents began hosting alternative nesting platforms for any birds that escaped the Company's dragnet. The platforms have gained wide support -- and made people wonder why the Company itself isn't leading the effort.
Friends of Animals has brought the bird's case to the Superior Court in New Haven. At the same time, we're working in the legislative sphere. The monk parakeets need solid support in order to regain long-term statutory protections.
Supporters should feel empowered to speak out, courteously but firmly, for the birds' freedom.
Here is the background about the parties who (a) have targeted the birds or (b) are in a logical position to help the birds, along with suggestions for encouraging respectful action from these parties. Please model respect and kindness, to elicit the best from those in the position to do the most good. As always, thank you for your concern and dedication.
The United Illuminating Company: Who They Are
The United Illuminating Company is a Connecticut electric utility. Its parent company, UIL Holdings, is owned in significant part by Chase Enterprises, an investment company focused mainly on real estate development.
The Chase family is as renowned for its philanthropy as its wealth. Chase Family foundations have supported the arts, medicine, and legal education in Connecticut and beyond.
Rather than forcing our local communities to spend time and resources building platforms in each others' yards and going to court for the birds, it would seem that such an affluent network of Connecticut residents could support the parrots' interest in remaining alive and flying free, for as long as they and their joyful songs grace the state. If we don't ask, we'll never know. Contact:
David T. Chase, CEO
1 Commercial Plz.
Hartford, CT 06103 U.S.
Connecticut Audubon Society: Who They Are
The Connecticut Audubon Society admits that the birds are ecologically harmless. The Society's support for gassing flies in the face of its promise to "offer enlightened leadership on key issues" related to birds.
The Society issues an Educator's Guide to "exploring the environment"; this interest in schools could make for a great platform-building project. Why didn't they think of it?
Working in partnership with National Audubon, the group says it's "keeping environmental issues in front of state representatives" and that it "promotes all aspects of the environment that together form the web of life."
To let them know they're on the wrong side of the web when it comes to parakeets, and to ask them to support Friends' of Animals' initiative with state representatives, contact:
Barbara Strickland, Chair
Board of Directors of the Connecticut Audubon Society
2325 Burr Street
Fairfield, CT 06824 U.S.
National Audubon Society: Who They Are
"We are utility experts, not bird experts," United Illuminating's Carbone told the media, adding that the "solution" was formulated with the support of the National Audubon Society.
National Audubon, with assets of $227,086,069 in fiscal year 2004, purports to "engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences."
One Board Member, Juliet P. Tammenoms Bakker of Greenwich, Connecticut, is also an active supporter of the Greenwich Audubon Center.
So, to tell National Audubon that United Illuminating could really use their support for a positive conservation experience, contact:
Juliet P. Tammenoms Bakker, Director
National Audubon Society
New York, NY 10003 U.S.