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Suspensions follow rookery destruction

CARROLLTON, Texas, Aug. 1 -- Three city officials in suburban Dallas are on unpaid suspension for their role in the decision last month to level a rookery for federally protected egrets. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the city of Carrollton failed to obtain the necessary permission before bulldozing the stand of trees where the birds raised their young.

The city officials ordered the rookery leveled in 'Operation Remove Excrement' after some residents complained about the smell, but City Manager Gary Jackson later admitted they failed to check federal regulations before doing so. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents told city officials the July 23 operation probably violated the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Hundreds of birds were left homeless by the action, and dozens were killed. Volunteers are caring for infant and injured birds, and nursing them back to health while options for finding the birds a permanent home are studied. Assistant City Manager Beth Little Bormann and interim Parks Director Tony Chrisman are suspended, along with Environmental health director Antonio Romo, whose job could be on the line. Jackson said all three played key roles in the decision-making that led to the embarrassing mistake. Mayor Milburn Gravley, who gave thanks to God when the rookery was leveled for the chance 'to take care of our own health and safety,' was silent Friday on the sanctions. ---

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