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Struggle to keep parrots uncaged continues

When Port Orchard resident Fred Olin watches the city’s famous Quaker Parrots, he doesn’t see a problem. He sees an opportunity.

Although the birds are currently in the process of being captured, Olin and several other concerned residents have developed a Web site designed to encourage parrot-lovers from all over the world to speak out on their behalf.

Olin plans to present a petition to the Port Orchard City Council on Monday night for disbursement to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WSDFW), Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel and Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire.

The petition simply states, “I request that the Quaker Parrots in Port Orchard, Washington, be allowed to remain free.”

Olin reports that, so far, 61 Washington communities, excluding Port Orchard, are home to individuals who have signed the petition, including Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Olalla, Tacoma and Vashon Island.

Individuals from 46 states, excluding only Delaware, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming, have also signed the petition, as have parrot lovers from 18 foreign countries.

Olin said he has a vision for the parrots of Port Orchard, a vision that allows Cingular Wireless, which wants to replace the cell phone tower on which the original nest was built, to share in the parrots’ fame.

The key element — a huge sign featuring parrot talking on a cell phone.

“I envision Cingular donating or selling a nearby city storage building to the city, or a nonprofit, and turning into the ‘Cingular Wireless Parrot Visitor’s Center,’” Olin said.

According to Olin, his research supports the idea that Cingular could leave the tower standing and build another right next to it.

“(The ‘Visitor’s Center’) could be staffed by volunteer docents, residents of the senior housing next door, and could contain and sell parrot books, tapes and nutritional food packets packaged by the Olympic Bird Fanciers Club,” Olin expounded.

His vision does not end there.

“Visitors could follow a ‘parrot trail’ from downtown or take the ‘parrot bus’ (Route 4) using a ‘parrot pass,’” which according to Olin includes a free trip back.

Olin said he has called South Kitsap High School, Olympic College and even the University of Washington to see if educators had students they thought might be interested in studying the birds. Olympic College has already replied in the affirmative.

“I’m hoping we can convince Fish and Wildlife to allow their freedom on a temporary basis for that purpose,” Olin said.

According to Olin, the WSDFW has found several more nests on private property throughout the city. As for the Mitchell Avenue parrots, Olin said the trapper has already set up walk-in traps to catch the birds. He does not believe the Department’s assertion that the parrots are a non-native species, and therefore a threat to local wildlife.

“We’ve been observing them for years,” Olin said. “They’re seed eaters.”

Olin said that Mayor Kim Abel is holding discussions with Cingular Wireless and City Councilman Todd Cramer promised to contact the WSDFW on the birds’ behalf after Olin met with them last week and convinced them of the benefit of keeping the birds in the wild.

“People like the idea of having the birds, especially in the wild,” Olin said. “It’s a positive thing.”

For more information and to sign the Parrot Petition Online visit http://tinyurl.com/ajj80.

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