Jeff Smith 9 a.m., May 24
Poway Woman Forced to Surrender Wild Birds to State Wildlife Officials
You can say that Dr. Lindy O'Leary's seven-year battle with the state's Fish and Game Department was all for the birds.
Today, after years of fighting and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees on both sides, O'Leary is handing over the 10 wild birds she has kept in her home to state officials.
For seven-years now the Poway resident, who runs the Poway, California Wildlife Center, has fought the state, saying the seven gulls, two hawks, and crow would not be able to survive in the wild. The state, however, has maintained that she needs a permit to keep those birds.
The fight over the birds has had its ups and downs. In November of 2010, a compromise was nearly reached. The Department of Fish and Game said that O'Leary would be able to keep the birds if she promised not to take custody of any more restricted animals, and pay the $752,139 in court fees accrued by the state.
O'Leary rejected that compromise.
Then, last month State Senator Mimi Walters introduced a bill that would have transferred oversight of the Wildlife Center to the Department of Agriculture. The change would have resulted in a five-year permit being issued to O'Leary's center. However, Walters later dropped the bill in favor of another compromise, which O'Leary again rejected.
In a half-page advertisement in the Sacramento Bee on Wednesday, O'Leary made a last-ditch plea to Governor Jerry Brown to allow her to keep caring for the injured animals. That plea seems to have gone unanswered.
According to a statement from her lawyer to the Bee, the compromise was unreasonable and O'Leary didn't have much of a choice other than to give the birds up.