FoA Sues United Illuminating Over Parakeet Gassing

FoA Sues United Illuminating Over Parakeet Gassing

Darien, CT — Friends of Animals, a leading voice for responsible policies for animals, has just served a Complaint against the United Illuminating Co. on behalf of Connecticut’s monk parakeets.

Refugees of the exotic pet trade, monk parakeets have lived freely in Connecticut, mostly in fir trees and oaks, for 30 to 40 years. Dwight G. Smith, who chairs the biology department at Southern Connecticut State University, said the birds — actually small parrots — provide nests for sparrows, finches, and owls, as well as themselves.

But the United Illuminating Co. (UI), an electric utility for southern Connecticut’s New Haven and Bridgeport areas, claims the green birds are a nuisance and a hazard.

With the blessing of the Connecticut Audubon Society and the National Audubon Society, UI has set about killing the birds in a campaign to remove their thatched-stick shelters from utility poles.

Friends of Animals seeks long-term policy change

United Illuminating’s parrot extermination campaign was short-circuited in December, after the company assured the Court it would stop netting the birds and turning them over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has been asphyxiating them in carbon dioxide chambers.

“We came out of Court with news of a temporary halt in the roundups and gassings of parakeets,” said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral.

“But we need responsible, long-term policies,” Feral explained. “The UI Co. dimmed the lights of holiday cheer in Connecticut. We’re demanding brighter ideas for the future, and, from state policy-makers, less flighty conduct.”

While UI has failed to implement prudent methods of dissuading these birds from nesting upon utility poles, people in the community have risen to the occasion. A platform construction workshop will be held this Saturday (14 Jan.) to show how to make a viable alternative that can keep parrots off poles, yet living and flying free.

Derek V. Oatis, a Manchester lawyer representing Friends of Animals, said, “We’re asking for a judgment declaring that the law requires UI to implement routine maintenance and prevent nesting, and a permanent injunction against the capturing and killing of the monk parakeets.”

Added Priscilla Feral, “Maintaining the public trust requires a redirection of resources from the tormenting of the birds to an enlightened response, one that rejects killing or experimenting on the birds or holding them captive.”

Controversy over the extermination has reached newspapers nationwide, and as far as London, England. And a growing concern for the birds has come from Connecticut legislators, including U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Christopher Shays, and state Rep. Richard Roy.

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