Thursday, April 19, 2007

Charges in Elegant Tern deaths

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Two San Diego men and a third from Orange County face criminal misdemeanor charges for their role in the deaths of more than 400 elegant terns in the summer of 2006 at Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor.

Prosecutors allege the men, who are employed by Point Loma Maritime Services, repeatedly walked aboard and moved a barge where dozens of elegant terns were nesting.

The men's actions frightened the birds, which were not yet ready to fly, and the terns went overboard and drowned, said Long Beach city prosecutor Tom Reeves.
The owner of Point Loma Maritime Services recently defended himself in a boating and fishing newspaper.

The saga began when Botticelli's company was hired in June 2006 to transport two empty barges to Santa Barbara for a Fourth of July fireworks display. He said his two-man crew arrived on the scene about 3 a.m.

"It was dark and there was absolutely no way my crew could have known the birds were on the barge," he said. "The whole thing was an accident. If my crew knew the birds were living aboard the barges, they would never have moved them."

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