OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Federal wildlife officials have decided not to pursue criminal charges against a tree trimmer who injured protected birds while cutting back trees at an Oakland post office last month, according to a congressman who is investigating the matter.
Five black-crowned night herons were injured on May 3 when tree trimmer Ernesto Pulido, a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service, trimmed trees outside the post office at 201 13th Street in Oakland.
The postal service said that it asked Pulido to trim the trees because herons who nest near that post office have been defecating on mail trucks, causing problems for their windshields and locking mechanisms.
Investigators for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suspected that Pulido violated the Migratory Bird Act but charges were never filed.
Pulido could have faced a fine of up to $15,000 and six months in jail if he were convicted of such a charge.
Darrell Issa, R-Vista, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Congressional Reform, said in a statement that he has been informed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice will not be pursuing charges against Pulido.
Fish and Wildlife officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Issa has been investigating the matter because he has questioned the agency’s decision to pursue a federal prosecution.
In his statement, Issa said, “I’m glad to hear that in the case of Mr. Pulido, the bureaucratic bullies have backed down.”
Issa said, “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. Mr. Pulido made a mistake, but took responsibility and made substantial efforts to make amends.”
Issa said, “The committee still has unanswered questions about this entire head-scratching incident and looks forward to hearing directly from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which must still comply with the committee’s document request.”
According to International Bird Rescue, two of the birds that were injured in the incident last month will be released on Saturday with a group of other orphaned herons care for by the rescue group at an event at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park at 7001 Edgewater Drive in Oakland.
The remaining three injured birds are still too young to release, according to the rescue group.
© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.