A San Diego County woman who has fought the California Department of Fish and Game for years over her keeping 10 wild birds at home is preparing to surrender them to the state Thursday, apparently unsuccessful in her appeal to Gov. Jerry Brown to "pardon" them.
In a half-page ad in The Bee's print edition this morning, Lindy O'Leary penned an open letter to the Democratic governor under the headline, "Dear Governor Brown: Please Pardon These Birds!" She included photographs of seagulls and a hawk she has been keeping without a permit, and she said the birds are "on their way to being killed."
The state disputed that. Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman for Fish and Game, said the birds will be placed in other facilities.
"Our intent is not to kill these animals," Traverso said.
The state and O'Leary have been wrangling in court for several years about the legality of O'Leary keeping her birds at her home, where she operates the Wildlife Center of San Diego. Last month, Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, dropped legislation she had proposed to help O'Leary get permission to keep the animals.
Walters' chief of staff, Garth Eisenbeis, said this afternoon that the senator helped broker a proposed compromise between O'Leary and the Department of Fish and Game, but that O'Leary ultimately rejected it.
"She's done what she believes she can do on her behalf," Eisenbeis said.
Jennifer Hegemier, O'Leary's lawyer, said terms of the proposed compromise were unreasonable and that O'Leary will keep pressing her case in court. Ultimately, she hopes to have the birds returned to her.
Meanwhile, Hegemier said the birds will be surrendered to the state Thursday.
"We are planning to comply," she said. "We don't have a choice."