By Ken Dixon, published in the Connecticut Post on March 21, 2006.

Unanimous decision for parrot protection

HARTFORD – With nary a squawk, the Legislature’s Environment Committee Monday unanimously approved a bill that would protect southwestern Connecticut’s monk parakeet population from eradication. The legislation, approved with no debate, next moves to the House of Representatives, as the General Assembly progresses toward its May 3 adjournment date.

Priscilla Feral, the president of the Darien-based Friends of Animals Inc., was optimistic Monday, but cautioned that there is a lot of time left in the session and that the bill could still be jeopardized.

Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, co-chairman of the committee, said the legislation would protect the birds from the type of program used last fall by the United Illuminating Co. to kill 179 birds in 103 nests on utility poles in West Haven, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport. The measure is included in a larger bill that would prohibit municipalities from euthanizing dogs that had been involved in biting incidents until hearings are held.

In part, the legislation says “no person shall catch or kill or attempt to catch or kill a monk parakeet.”

“We’re just saying ‘don’t do it,’ ” Roy said after the vote. “It’s just something we have to do.”

Feral said that if the bill becomes law, it could result in the Friends of Animals withdrawing a pending lawsuit against UI that was filed in an attempt to protect the birds, which have found the utility poles attractive to build their stick nests that house multiple generations of the feisty birds.

“We look forward to the Legislature doing the right thing,” Feral said…