City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

May 02, 2007

An emu mystery: Who dumped flightless birds in Baltimore?

It was no place for poultry on the lam?and certainly not the large birds dumped from a van in the middle of downtown Baltimore: emus, of all things.

The unlikely scenario Friday night at Baltimore and Charles streets was witnessed by a homeless man, who called police. It was no tall tale, just 5-foot-tall birds ? and the police want to know who dumped them there.

In his report, Officer Richard Cimini said the birds had taken refuge in an alley near the intersection as he called for backup units and notified city animal control officers.

Cimini reported that the emus had what appeared to be rope burns around their necks and nervously huddled while being loaded into a truck and taken to an animal shelter in West Baltimore.

The shelter, in turn, notified Bill Walters, senior animal technician at the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore and a volunteer for Wildlife Rescue in Carroll County, where the flightless birds were taken over the weekend.

One had to be euthanized because of its poor condition, while the others appeared to be healthy and were given to three animal farms in Carroll,Walters said ? describing them as about a year old and accustomed to humans.

"Whoever dumped the birds in downtown Baltimore had no concern for their safety because they could have been hit by vehicles and killed,"Walters said.

Anyone with information about who abandoned the emus ? a violation of the animal-cruelty law?was urged to call the Police Department?s Central District at 410-396-2411.

[RICHARD IRWIN]

Cigarette blamed for fatal fire

A discarded cigarette is to blame for a fire that killed a Harford County man whose body was found Monday in the charred living room of his Forest Hill home, fire officials said yesterday.

Raymond A. Hull, 68, the sole occupant of the ranch house in the 300 block of Forest Valley Road, died of smoke inhalation after a cigarette ignited the upholstered chair in which he was seated, officials said.

The fire might have started as early as Thursday evening in the living room of the home. It burned out for lack of oxygen in the tightly sealed brick home. The fire and the death went undetected until Monday afternoon, when a family friend discovered the body.

[MARY GAIL HARE]

Aerial spraying set for gypsy moths

Aerial spraying to control leafmunching gypsy moth caterpillars will begin this week, the Maryland Department of Agriculture announced.

The cooperative effort by the state, U.S. Forest Service, local jurisdictions and landowners is targeting 50,000 acres in 11 counties this year. The acreage is nearly double last year?s total, reflecting an upswing in the cyclical infestations.

Last year, gypsy moths defoliated nearly 15,800 acres, mostly in far western Garrett County, the agency said.

Garrett accounts for about 30 percent of the acreage to be sprayed with pesticides this year, according to the Agriculture Department?s Web site. The other counties, targeted for spraying are Frederick, Washington, Carroll,Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Allegany, Harford and Cecil.

[ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

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