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Birds shot to death at Portland cemetery

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Birds shot to death at Portland cemetery

PORTLAND — Someone has killed seven birds, including a blue heron, at Evergreen Cemetery in the past month.

Cemetery workers were first alerted to the dead birds about three weeks ago, said Joe Dumais, the Parks, Playgrounds and Cemeteries coordinator for the city. He said a man came to the cemetery office and reported several dead ducks at the pond in the rear of the cemetery. 

"We found four mallard ducks and a blue heron," Dumais said. Three of the birds appeared to have been "freshly dead," he said, while the other two had probably been dead a few days.

"They were all found in the same vicinity," Dumais added. The pond is a popular gathering spot for geese and ducks. It is also a well-visited place for people who like to watch and feed the waterfowl. The dead birds were found on the edge of the pond.

"It was easy to determine they did not die of natural causes," Dumais said, and were most likely shot.

A couple days after the first report, workers at the cemetery, which is off of Stevens Avenue, found two more dead mallards.

Dumais reported the crimes to the Portland Police Department and the Maine Warden Service. 

Besides dealing with someone killing waterfowl on city property, Dumais said there are legal issues including hunting out of season and discharging a firearm within city limits.

The city has not heard back from the Warden Service and a spokeswoman for the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife could not find a report of the incident this week.

"If it happens again, we'll be more assertive (with the wardens)," Dumais said. For now, cemetery crews and park rangers are watching the area closely. 

Dumais surmised that the person responsible for killing the birds was in a vehicle and used a BB gun. Firing a round from a real gun, he said, most likely would have been noticed and reported by someone.

The cemetery gates are closed from sundown to sunrise.

City Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky said shooting birds is obviously a safety concern, among other things.

"It's just not acceptable," Bobinsky said. "We're quite concerned."

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net