Friday, March 17, 2006

Friends of Animals Wants Connecticut to Declare that Monk Parakeets Are Not an Invasive Species

There was plenty of noise late last year when United Illuminating began tearing down nests that monk parakeets had built on utility poles and lines, and shipped the birds themselves off to be killed (click on November 2005 in the archives and scroll around). People who lived near the nests protested, Friends of Animals got into the act and sued, and although the program resulted in the removal of 100 or so nests, it was a public relations disaster for UI.

One of the reasons UI was able to get permission to kill the birds is that monk parakeets, which are not native to North America, are considered an invasive species. They settled along the shore of Long Island Sound about four decades ago. Now the Connecticut Post reports that Friends of Animals are asking the state of Connecticut to declare them to be non-invasive.

It’s not clear to me how you can do that with a straight face – either the animals are from here, in which case they are native and non-invasive, or they’re not, in which case they are invasive. It would be like declaring zebra mussels or Asian shore crabs to be non-invasive (which reminds me, I don’t remember Friends of Animals taking up the cudgel in favor of either of those invertebrates).

On the other hand, United Illuminating’s reasoning for removing the nests is that the birds are responsible for fires and power outages, which seems to be merely an assertion – if there’s real proof that the birds are doing that, none of the local papers have written about it. And I haven’t heard of monk parakeets causing problems for other birds by usurping their habitats, the way starlings and house sparrows have done, for example (or zebra mussels and Asian shore crabs in a different realm).


Blogger John said...

I don't see how CT could declare Monk Parakeets noninvasive (they are invasive). But if the state wanted to prevent a repeat of the situation last fall, perhaps it could put some restrictions on what can be done with invasives and when it could be done, or split invasives into harmful invasives and benign invasives, with separate regulations.

10:30 AM  

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