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Written arguments due in case of Youngwood woman's confiscated bird

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Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

The squawk over Gizmo the parakeet may quiet down next month.

Following a brief court appearance on Friday, Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso ordered attorneys for the pet bird's owner and the state, which confiscated the 27-year-old fowl last year, to submit written legal arguments within 10 days.

Lawyers agreed there are no disputes over the facts in the case.

At issue is whether Gizmo can be legally returned to owner Faith Good, 63, of Youngwood.

Last spring, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials cited Good for possessing eight illegal birds. In June, she pleaded guilty to summary offenses before District Judge James Falcon.

Good was fined $500, and the state confiscated from her home the eight birds, including Gizmo, a monk parakeet that the commission contends cannot be owned by private citizens in Pennsylvania.

The birds are considered to be agricultural pests that could ruin crops and cause power outages by building nests on electrical lines.

“It's contraband,” Assistant District Attorney Kelly Hammers said. “She was convicted of a statute that says it is contraband. There is no spite or ill will and no dislike of animals. We're officers of the court.”

Wildlife Conservation Officer Matthew Lucas said the bird has been kept in a menagerie, where it has been cared for since its confiscation.

Lucas said Gizmo has outlived its life expectancy, as monk parakeets typically live about two decades.

Good was not in court on Friday.

“She's distraught,” said her attorney, Anthony Rosner. “This is her bird, and it's been her pet for 26 years. There's been an amazing amount of support for this woman and this bird.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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