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Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Protected species among those killed

April 10, 2002

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— More than 15 birds, including some federally protected species, were killed at a public park after they ate strychnine-laced milo, authorities said.

Personnel from the Pittsburg State University Nature Research Center collected a dozen dead birds Sunday and four more on Monday from Lakeside Park.

Joey Williams, director of the center, performed preliminary autopsies and discovered grain in the birds' craws. A Pittsburg veterinarian confirmed the grain was laced with strychnine, which is available at feed and grain stores and is generally used to control moles and gophers.

Williams said six grackles, a mourning dove, a mallard duck and a Canada goose were killed. Those are all federally protected species, which means whoever laced the milo could be fined up to $10,000 and get up to a year in a federal prison for each bird.

The killings of the domestic ducks and geese maintained by the city could be prosecuted as misdemeanors under the city's cruelty to animals ordinance. The penalty is a fine of up to $100 per animal. Williams said some of the deaths could also fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will get a copy of the police report.

Williams said he suspects bored kids are responsible but he doesn't expect to ever know unless someone offers a reward for information.

"I would love to see somebody at least get caught for it... make them think twice," he said.

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