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No charges for Oakland tree trimmer accused of injuring heron chicks

Oakland tree trimmer will not face federal charges after protected heron chicks are injured

An Oakland tree trimmer will not face federal charges for removing young herons from their nest, injuring five of them, for a landscaping project outside a post office.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the determination not to pursue the case against Ernesto Pulido this week after completing its investigation and consulting with federal prosecutors.

"We are glad to hear that the herons affected by this action are expected to fully recover,” the agency said in a statement.

Pulido was hired by a post office in Oakland to trim trees outside the facility. The nest holding young black-crowned Night Herons, a protected species, was apparently resting on one of the tree's limbs.

The 1- to 3-week-old birds were hurt during the project and suffered scrapes and bruises. One of the birds had a fractured beak.

Pulido, who described himself as an animal lover, came under fire soon after the incident and offered to pay the birds' rehabilitation costs.

The controversy prompted Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) to announce his support of Pulido and pleaded with authorities to drop the case on his behalf.

On Thursday, Issa said in a statement that he was glad "the bureaucratic bullies have backed down."

"The decision to press charges in the first place seems to have been based more on public outcry from outside groups and less on common sense," Issa said in his statement. "Mr. Pulido made a mistake, but took responsibility and made substantial efforts to make amends."

The herons are being cared for by International Bird Rescue in Fairfield. At least two of the injured birds are scheduled to be released in the East Bay marsh habitat Saturday after healing from their wounds. The remaining birds will continued to receive care.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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