OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — No endangered birds died in a wood chipper earlier this month as a company trimmed trees outside a Northern California post office, federal officials said Tuesday.
Investigators interviewed witnesses, reviewed a bystander's video and examined the wood chipper, U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Steve Martarano said.
The investigation followed onlookers' horrified reports to police on May 3 that bird chicks and their nests toppled to the ground and some were ground up in the wood chipper outside the main post office in downtown Oakland.
Five young black-crowned herons were hurt after they fell about 25 feet from the trees as workers clipped away at branches. The birds were rescued by the onlookers who took them to International Bird Rescue in Fairfield.
The finding supports previous statements from police, the U.S. Postal Service and a tree service contractor who said no birds were killed, The Oakland Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1v15vhg ).
A spokesman at the rescue center said last week that the birds were in good condition after suffering scrapes and bruises from the fall. One bird also had a fractured beak.
The tree service has offered to pay for the injured birds' treatment. The trimmings occurred as postal officials were concerned about birds defecating on mail trucks parked outside the post office.
Investigators have not determined whether the trimmings violated the the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law designed to protect migratory birds, and their nests and habitats.
A violation of the act would be considered a misdemeanor offense resulting in a jail term up to six months, a $1,000 fine, plus $100 for any bird or nest that is harmed.
Black-crowned herons are an endangered species.