Remember that 8-year-old girl who receives small objects from crows in return for feeding them? Well, her parents are now facing a $200,000 lawsuit accusing them of running a large-scale feeding operation out of their backyard.
Earlier this year, the BBC’s Katy Sewall told the story of Gabi Mann, an 8-year-old Seattle girl who, since the age of four, has had a remarkable relationship with the neighborhood crows. In exchange for food, the birds have gifted Gabi with such things as earrings, bolts, paperclips, and polished rocks. The story attracted international attention, while also provoking interest into corvid intelligence.
But as Reuters (via RawStory) is now reporting, a lawsuit filed by the neighbors is accusing Gabi’s parents of running a kind of feed-op behind their Portage Bay neighborhood home—a posh area containing million-dollar homes—that’s attracting an inordinate number of crows, seagulls, pigeons, and even rats.
According to the lawsuit, “Large numbers of birds swarm the feeding operation daily, leaving behind dirt, feathers, peanut particles and shells, feces and urine on the surrounding properties.”
Allegedly, the parents have hired employees to fill the feeding troughs, which are topped up a half-dozen times a day. The lawsuit is seeking $200,000 in compensation for damage to gutters and drainpipes, while also seeking a court order to end the feedings. The families are also requesting that the Mann family limit the quanity of food deposited into the various feeding stations to a quarter pound of food a day; presently, the quantity of food greatly exceeds this.
“No one wants to be trapped living inside an Alfred Hitchcock horror movie,” noted attorney Anna Johnsen in a Seattle P-I article. “This is a residential neighborhood that was not designed to host a large-scale wildlife feeding operation.”
Johnsen stresses that the lawsuit is not directed at Gabi, but at her mother, Lisa Mann. What’s more, the neighbors say they’ve repeated asked the Mann family to scale back the feedings, but they’ve refused. More from Seattle P-I:
According to the lawsuit, neighbors went to animal control agencies at every level of government hoping to find someone to intervene. No one did. A petition signed by 51 neighbors filed a petition with the city of Seattle failed to prompt action.
On visits to the Mann home, a Public Health – Seattle & King County investigator found bird food that could attract rodents but never witnessed any rats, department spokesman James Apa said Tuesday. Health officials sent letters to the family asking them to reduce scattered food at their home.
The county health code requires that residents prevent rats and mice from feeding on their properties. The Manns weren’t cited by investigators.
Calls for comments to the Mann family have so far gone unanswered, nor have they responded to the lawsuit, reports Seattle P-I.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Mann family was depositing a quarter pound of food each day. This amount is actually the limit of food requested by the lawsuit.
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