Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Feds Slaughter Monk Parakeets in Connecticut

Well, I wasn't sure if I should write about this or not, but there seems to be a lot of interest in it, so I'll just explain the situation and let you decide for yourselves.

Apparently, the USDA, in conjunction with the local utility company, has started killing wild Monk Parakeets in Connecticut. Monks have a tendency to build their huge stick nests on or near power transformers, some have speculated that they do this to keep warm. This tendency has caused numerous fires across the country where Monks nest. Here in Chicago, which has a very large population of wild Monks, the local poweer company, Com Ed, has periodically removed nests that it deems to be dangerous. However, ComEd has never, to my knowledge, ever actually killed any parakeets, and I am unaware of any other utility in the country that has ever condoned or sanctioned the outright killing of these birds.

These parakeets are much-loved in the Chicago area, and it is rumored that the late Mayor Harold Washington prevented their nests from being destroyed when he was mayor. My parents have about two dozen Monks that regularly visit their yard, and they love them to death. However, these birds are invasive exotics, so while I certainly do not condone killing them, I'm not sure we should be encouraging them, etiher.

Anyway, you all can decide for yourselves. The best place to find further information on this story is at www.brooklynparrots.com


Anonymous said...

It would seem to me another way we tend to care more about "pretty" species than other species. Zebra Mussels, get rid of 'em. Monk Parakeets, why just look how cute they are, lets keep them. They are an invasive species, and should be treated as such. "Slaughter" is such a strong word.

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

Hi Clare;

I've heard from a few other people who had basically the same reaction you did. I guess I might have stronger feelings if they were pushing out any native birds (which I don't think is happening) or were becoming an agricultural pest.

I guess my hope is that getting people to care about birds -- any birds, even introduced species -- can be a "first step" to getting people who would not normally care about nature or wildlife to start thinking about helping our native birds.

I don't know, I usually have pretty strong opinions about things, but on this one I can certainly see the merits to both sides of the argument.