A tree-trimmer, homeless birds, and an erroneous report involving a wood-chipper: These are the elements of a strange story that has riled Oakland. Herons living in trees near a post office were leaving droppings on mail trucks, so the post office had the trees trimmed. That, it seems, is how five baby herons tumbled to the ground and got hurt. After being taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, they're going to be fine—but the guy who trimmed the trees could face federal charges for harming protected migratory birds, the New York Times reports. A US Fish and Wildlife Service special agent says 26-year-old Ernesto Pulido could see half a year in jail and a $15,000 fine, though the agent's office has called instead for a $1,500 fine.
He may have violated a 1918 treaty that protects migratory birds. But he's distraught over the incident and says he's an animal lover: He owns rabbits, dogs, bees, and 70 chickens, he told the San Francisco Chronicle last month. He says his family has grappled with harassment from outraged locals after the incident, even though he paid $2,500 for the birds' medical care. US Rep. Darrell Issa says it's the post office, not Pulido, that should be facing any consequences; he notes that the widespread uproar over the incident may be fueled by initial, incorrect reports that the baby birds were put in a wood chipper. Meanwhile, an Oakland advocate for the homeless points out that people seem more concerned about homeless birds than the city's homeless people.