Getting back Gizmo: Owner of Youngwood parakeet sues state
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
For the love of a pet bird named Gizmo, a Youngwood woman is suing the state, claiming Game Commission officials appeared on her doorstep and seized the 26-year-old Monk parakeet, leaving her with an empty cage and a broken heart.
But commission officials say Faith Good's pet is on the state's prohibited list.
The chatty, green, gray and blue birds with orange beaks, also known as Quaker parakeets, have been dubbed agricultural pests, a threat to native wildlife and a general nuisance because of the expansive nests — sometimes 10 feet across — they build on utility lines and transformers, often causing outages.
“Unlike many nonnative bird species, the Monk parakeet is tolerant of colder temperatures and can establish wild populations in places like Pennsylvania,” commission spokesman Travis Lau said.
“These birds often nest in colonies and build giant nests, and when they become prolific in the wild, they compete with and can displace native wildlife, particularly native birds,” he added.
Acting on a tip from the public, commission officials picked up Gizmo in March. Since that time, the bird has been held in an undisclosed location, Lau said.
But Good says Gizmo is nothing more than a beloved family pet she purchased for her daughter 26 years ago, six months before the state banned the birds.
“I haven't even touched his cage since the day he left,” said Good, 63. “I don't have the heart to take that newspaper out of the cage.”
Good got choked up on Monday thinking about Gizmo's large vocabulary and how he would mimic her voice.
“It's hard. I think of him every day,” she said.
In her lawsuit filed in Westmoreland County on Sept. 5, she asks state officials to return the bird she paid $600 for in January 1987 when Gizmo was a month old.
At the time, she thought the bird was a different type of parakeet, she said. She kept quiet when she learned the truth 20 years later.
“I didn't want somebody to take him and euthanize him,” Good said.
Good's attorney, Anthony Rosner, disputed the notion Gizmo could wreak havoc on the local ecosystem.
“It's only one bird, so it can't mate,” he said.
Experts disagree, and that's why Pennsylvania and a handful of other states have banned the parakeets.
While one Monk parakeet probably won't cause damage on its own, should the bird escape and find a mate, they could devastate local agriculture, said Scott Detwiler of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
“It doesn't necessarily take a whole lot,” he said. “The threat is real.”
Monk parakeets can ruin crops, such as corn and fruits, if allowed to breed, said Bob Mulvihill of the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Monk parakeets, generally about a foot in length, are native to South America. They were brought to the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Staff writer Kate Wilcox contributed.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Greensburg bishop’s time at helm draws to a close
- Fuel spill discovered on Loyalhanna Creek
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Unity woman loses appeal of DUI conviction
- Jeannette to use grant to secure Monsour
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends
- Murrysville police will get raises in 5-year pact
- Mt. Pleasant’s St. Pius X serves up Lenten meals
- Wilkinsburg man jailed in heroin overdose case
- Latrobe council eyes neighborhood watch program