November 27, 2005
Eradication of Parakeets Draws Protests

It opens:
"United Illuminating, tired of pulling monk parakeet nests off utility poles only to see the birds return and rebuild, began capturing the parakeets about two weeks ago and handing them over to scientists from the federal government to kill. For the first few days, the euthanization went quietly. And then an article in The Connecticut Post alerted local animal rights activists to the procedure. Since then, it has been far from quiet."

A spokesman for the United Illuminating Company has said the company "attempted numerous methods to remove the birds without killing them, but the parakeets just kept coming back."

We read, "The nests, Mr. Carbone said, range from about 10 pounds up to 200 pounds and can contain as many as 40 to 50 birds. The twigs in the nests sometimes push down on transformers and cause explosions, he said. The company has attributed four fires over the last two years to the nests and also blames the parakeets for 8 to 12 power interruptions every year."

Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, in Darien, is quoted: "'This is occasionally a problem and doesn't require a draconian measure.''

And according to the story, Representative Thomas Drew, a Democrat from Fairfield, is attempting to get a moratorium on the eradication effort. The article tells us that he called the practice ''kind of barbaric,'' and said, ''If the damage is so severe and there is no realistic alternative that's one thing. But that case hasn't been demonstrated to the public yet.''

Friends of Animals have posted the whole New York Times article on their website at http://tinyurl.com/8thrk  You can send a letter to the editor of the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com

An article in Connecticut's Record Journal, headed, "Lawmakers get involved in fight to save parakeets" tell us: "United Illuminating officials have agreed to meet with environmental groups and state lawmakers at the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss the power company's plan to eradicate monk parakeet nests from utility poles in southern Connecticut. The meeting was called by State Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, after environmentalists and members of the public spoke out against killing the birds."

You'll find it on line at:
www.record-journal.com/articles/2005/11/27/news/state/state01.txt
The Record Journal takes letters at letters@record-journal.com

My thanks to Elizabeth Boris for posting the link to that story and also for contact information for Representative Dick Roy: Richard.Roy@cga.ct.gov
He deserves some encouraging thank-you notes.

Coincidentally, today, Monday, November 28, the Chicago Tribune has a front page story headed, "Birds put on show at Shedd; The plucky monk parakeet continues to branch out in sweet home Chicago."

It is about a colony of parakeets that lives next door to the Shedd Aquarium. That positive article includes the following quote from a trainer at the aquarium: "It's a thrill for our visitors and staff to see them around here."

You can read the whole article on line at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0511280095nov28,1,3620323.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Letters to the Chicago Tribune regarding the parakeet situation in Connecticut could help make the eradication into a national issue. The Chicago Tribune takes letters at
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-lettertotheeditor.customform

In March, this year, I sent out a personal rave review of a film called "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," which also received rave reviews from much of the media, including Roger Ebert, and from the San Francisco Weekly, in which it was called a "Great, important and unforgettable movie." It is a beautiful tale of one man's relationship with a colony of wild parrots in San Francisco. I recommend it wholeheartedly. That film is now out on DVD and available for rental from both Blockbuster.com and Netflix.com.