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Group wants protection for birds

January 13, 2006 | Monk Parakeet

Recent deal protecting parakeets expired at end of 2005

By Ken Dixon, published in The Connecticut Post on January 13, 2006

Animal-rights activists on Thursday asked the state Superior Court to permanently protect southwestern Connecticut's colorful monk parakeets from the United Illuminating Co., the Connecticut Post has learned.

The lawsuit, which was being delivered to UI attorneys and the court on Thursday, is aimed at saving the parakeets from further eradication, following the recent killing of 179 birds by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at UI's request.

Utility officials Thursday night said they would not comment on pending litigation. But they restated a previous commitment to seeking an alternative to keep electric poles clear of nests, without killing the gregarious birds that have made the coastline their home since the early 1970s.

Priscilla Feral, president of the Darien-based Friends of Animals, said Thursday that the request is a follow-up to a showdown in New Haven Superior Court last month, when UI agreed to suspend the program of capturing and euthanizing the birds.

"What UI committed to the last time in court was a moratorium that would only last until the end of 2005. We seek a permanent injunction and ask for judgment that requires UI to conduct maintenance on the poles and prevent the nesting," Feral said in an interview. The suit claims the parrots, which live in colonies of up to 40 birds in thatched nests in trees and utility poles, are now an important part of the Connecticut ecosystem.

Friends of Animals claims UI has neglected routine maintenance on the poles and should be forced to use new ways to clear them off without capturing and killing them.

In November and December, UI crews went to 103 nests in West Haven, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport and removed birds, handing them to USDA crews that asphyxiated the birds using carbon-dioxide gas. It was a $125,000 program that began the week of Nov. 14.

The suit claims that numerous other birds, including song sparrows, house finches and great horned owls, also use the parrot nests for shelter.

"The presence of the Monk Parakeet, a strict herbivore, is a benign effect on other local species and may actually increase numbers and variety of wildlife in an otherwise ecologically barren urban environment," the suit says.

The utility's eradication effort was first reported by the Post, setting off a storm of protest within the region and nation, particularly among monk parakeet aficionados in Brooklyn, N.Y., and New Jersey, where utility companies have developed non-lethal ways to clear their poles.

Al Carbone, spokesman for UI, said Thursday that the destruction of the 103 nests was completed last week.

Carbone would not comment directly on the lawsuit, which he had not seen, but said company policy prevented him from talking about pending litigation. He said that during the cleanup of the nests, workers found evidence that the birds had gnawed on power lines.

"They found that a lot of the insulation on the wires was chewed up, which was a fire hazard and a threat to public health and safety," Carbone said, adding that workers taped up the gaps in the insulation.

He said the company didn't have an agenda against the bird that requires killing them.

"We're willing to monitor the existing locations and work with other utilities and state and federal officials to develop legitimate, practical, non-lethal control methods," Carbone said.


I can see the problem the birds are causing, but there has to be a better and more econmical way of keeping them away from the poles and lines.


Why don't you offer a solution instead of keeping lawyers working? Such as nesting platforms on top of poles possibly. If groups such as yours would spend as much energy on solutions as you do on litigation real progress would result. [Blog editors' note: As many of the previous entries describe nesting platforms on top of poles and our encouragement for such work, we assume this is toungue-in-cheek. But from time to time we do have to do something to keep the lawyers from roaming the streets at large, where they might create a nuisance or a public hazard. Thanks for writing in.]

Although, I know that these parakeet are wild, instead of having them killed why dont you place them up for adoption. I know many people that would love to have such a beautiful bird as a pet. Or build a sanctuary, or better yet if these birds are not natine to the state of Conneticut drive them out of the electric poles by moving their nest to a safer place. But don't kill them. [Blog editors' note: After about 40 years of integrating themselves into the web of life in Connecticut, we'd consider them tantamount to native birds. Thus, we wish to protect their lives and their freedom too. William Blake wrote that a Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all of Heaven in a rage. Blake would doubtless have the same respect for Parrot Greenbreast.]

Sounds like [United Illuminating spokesperson Al] Carbone has his mind open now. I see a wedge has made some space for rethinking the violent, lethal problem-solving tactics of the utility company. The publicity and legal pressure seem to be getting somewhere. Thank you to Priscilla Feral and this organization for knowing how to change the status quo and doing it!!

Now that Al Carbone and UI and others have killed the Monks and displaced them all (whatever is left of them) in the winter, when UI could have waited till spring with a humane solution is "CRUELTY". Now that they are dead and I'm sure in LABS hands for dissection and research, I guess Carbone is happy now. Who knows what UI and Al Carbone is going after next. I bet he got paid for doing this so the "research Labs"can have them. We all know how these labs love to use animals/wildlife for testing and whatever else they feel like. It sickens me and people who contribute to it are just as sickening. There is way to much animal testing going on. I guess they needed more "birds". Shame, Shame, Shame.

these birds were destroying powerlines, UI had no choice but to destroy these nests. i believe they did the right thing. the way these birds were making their nests, there was a possible threat of damage and fire. the cost to live in connecticut is already high, the price of power would just go up if a fire was caused. so people that want these birds to live, then you go to the top of the poles and save them, risk your own life. im sure the birds are not in labs, they probably just flew away. to all of those people that are upset by this, get a life. FoA comments: Lack of pole maintainence and the insensitivity of the electric company toward finding non-lethal alternatives to a problem, not birds were the problem. Please don't blame the birds for Connecticut having the highest cost of electricity in the country. And once you have a life worth living, you no longer see the lives of others as worthless. Yes, please take your own advice.

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