By Patrick Yost editor
Two exotic birds destined for the Georgia Zoo and Safari Park have died and a third is ill and expected to die, according to a Morgan County Sheriff’s Office report. The report, filed on July 21, states that one of the zoo’s principal’s, Michael Vaden, reported that a Yellow Billed Hornbill worth $2,500 and a Lorikeet worth $500 were both dead inside a fenced enclosure at his River Farm Run residence.
Vaden said in the report that a Black Throated Mg Pie Jay worth $5,000 had shown signs of distress and a veterinarian said the bird had been poisoned and was not expected to live. In the report Vaden said a crop duster had recently sprayed chemicals on corn fields planted and maintained by his neighbor Everett Williams. Williams, a noted dairy farmer in Morgan County and the southeast, farms approximately 1,500 acres near the River Farm Run area, which is located outside of Godfrey.
Vaden said in the report that the plane had panicked the birds and that he had trouble breathing. He contacted the crop dusting company was was told, reports state, that they had been spraying a product called “Headline,” a fungicide.He was also told that the pilot agreed to stay away from Vaden’s residence in the future.
Williams said he spoke with Vaden Monday regarding his concerns and said that he would “take into consideration that he may have problems and if he does we’ll try to work something out.” “We’re not out to hurt a neighbor,” Williams said. Vaden and partner Bill Killmer were given a conditional use permit in April by the Morgan County Board of Commissioners to construct a zoo and safari park on 395 acres south of Interstate 20 on Georgia Highway 83.
Initially, Vaden and Killmer had received a conditional use permit to operate the zoo near Vaden’s River Farm Run residence. That permit was revoked when the company located and secured the larger parcel of property for the project. Killmer said the company was “trying to work through it right now” and was waiting for a definitive explanation on the birds’ illness.