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City Says Resident's Accusations of Illegal Barn Swallow Removal Are False

Richfield resident Scott Meyer said the city has removed active Barn Swallow nests at Veterans Memorial Park, however, the city disputes the accusations.

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Richfield's parks are home to a large variety of different bird species, many of which can be spotted at and .

Now that spring has arrived, Barn Swallows have begun to build nests in the shelter at Veterans Memorial Park, according to local resident and bird enthusist, Scott Meyer.

However, in a recent , Meyer accuses the City of Richfield of possibly violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by removing active Barn Swallow nests. The act does allow for removal, however, nests can only be legally removed if there are no eggs or young in them. A city may even need a permit to do so. Meyer is arguing that the nests were in fact occupied when they were removed.

According to an e-mail response Meyer received from City Manager Steve Devich, the city said there weren't any nests until the week of May 14.

"This is blatantly untrue," Meyer wrote in his letter. "Barn Swallows returned to the Park in early May and had completed nests in the Shelter by May 5, 2012.  I led a bird watching walk on May 5, 2012 in which 7 people watched the Barn Swallows sitting on their nests. Many other people who enjoy Nature at Veterans Memorial Park also saw the Swallows nests more than a week earlier than when Mr. Devich claims."

While the city admits to removing empty nests, Devich told Patch the city has absolutely not removed occupied nests. In addition, director, Jim Topitzhofer, also issued a statement on the accusations Wednesday. Topitzhofer said the city developed a removal plan in conjunction with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Staff removed the nests on one occasion just after the early stages of nest building for the season while following the new procedure," the statement said. "The nests were removed after being carefully inspected to make sure no eggs or hatchlings were present. Staff continues to clean the facility to remove mud and droppings from the structure and to help make the picnic shelter more suitable for public use."

Meyer has been tracking bird activity at the park. On Wednesday night, he said in an e-mail: "The nest I checked yesterday was ripped down by the City sometime today. I checked this morning and it was there with a [Barn] Swallow on it, but tonight it was ripped down."

Meyer said he would be reporting the issue to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Richfield Patch will update readers if any new information becomes available.

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