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2 Seek to Halt Bird Shootings

An attorney representing two Oxnard residents has filed papers asking a judge to halt “coot shoots” at the city-owned River Ridge Golf Course.

Claiming the seasonal Monday morning bird shootings cause them emotional trauma, Pebble Beach Trail residents Lee Casey and her daughter, Lorna, want the city and its contractor to stop killing the coots as pests.

“The city’s feeling is that the only way they can control the problem is by shooting,” said Craig Ploss, the Ventura attorney representing the Caseys. “We don’t believe that’s the case.”

The city has tried a variety of methods to eradicate the migratory waterfowl, also known as mud hens, every fall and winter since the course opened in 1987. Officials say the birds cause thousands of dollars in damage to the manicured fairways.

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But the city’s lethal tactics have aroused the ire of animal lovers. The Caseys, whose home borders the 10th fairway, have spearheaded efforts to stop the shootings.

In documents filed Wednesday, the Caseys contend the city “wrongfully and negligently” conducts the shootings in violation of its U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service permit and of state law and city code.

The action creates a “private and public nuisance and public health hazard,” the Caseys said. Lee Casey contends that the shootings upset her so much that she is forced to leave her home when they occur. In addition, the suit claims, stress from the shootings caused complications during Lorna Casey’s pregnancy.

Superior Court Judge John Hunter is scheduled to rule on the injunction request Tuesday, Ploss said.

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City Atty. Gary Gillig declined comment, saying he had not received notification of the legal action. But the City Council plans to discuss the issue in closed session Tuesday. The meeting was scheduled before Wednesday’s court filing, in anticipation of possible litigation, Gillig said.


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