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150 exotic birds seized
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More than 150 exotic birds, possibly worth tens of thousands of dollars, have been seized because of the conditions in which they were being kept in east Liberty County.
"Nasty is an understatement," Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said Tuesday about the conditions the birds were in when they were seized on June 9.
His department had filed a public notice of impoundment on June 11 that is to run as a legal advertisement in the Courier.
Liberty County Sheriff Don Martin said his department was called in to help with the raid of the residence at 115 The Dirt Road, which is off Fort Morris Road in the Sunbury area.
Martin's chief deputy, Keith Moran, said the assumed owner, Diana Freeman, is believed to be out of state.
"We do understand she will return," Moran said, adding that any criminal charges will be decided after she is interviewed.
The initial report came from an anonymous tip to Irvin's office, according to Ardy Schronce, press secretary for the department, which is better known for its work in behalf of dogs, horses and other domestic animals.
The advertisement said the birds include a peach face lovebird, two Indian ringnecks, a harlequin macaw, 97 cockatiels and numerous other birds.
Irvin said his department does not disclose where impounded animals are held. A call to Diana DeLoach, one of the department's supervisors for the animal protection section, however, made it obvious they are being kept with department officials.
"Well, actually many of them are," she responded to the statement that it sounded like all the birds were on her desk.
She deferred other questions to Irvin's office.
Irvin said the birds were impounded because of an alleged failure to provide humane care. The incident report with the LCSO said DeLoach had made the initial report to the sheriff's department.
"After responding to the residence, she found a large number of birds enclosed in a shed," the report reads. "Complainant stated that the shed was enclosed, with no open door or window, and only a fan inside. Some of the birds' water bowls had an orange tint to it. Some of birds were losing their feathers."
It was unclear how long they had been in those conditions. Hinesville veterinarian, Dr. David Beattie, was apparently called in to evaluate the birds' health. He declined comment, saying he understood it was an open investigation.
Irvin and Agriculture officials said there was a lack of adequate shelter, ventilation, food, water, medical care and sanitary environment.
Officials said Freeman formerly held a state license for selling exotic birds, but is not licensed now. Irvin said it would be up to local law enforcement officials to decide any criminal charges in the handling of the birds.
The impoundment notice addresses anyone who claims to be the birds' owners, giving them 30 days to request a hearing after publication.
Irvin said depending on any decision coming out of the hearing, the birds could be given back to the owner or turned over to the state, when they would probably be auctioned off.
The commissioner estimated that the birds were worth "tens of thousands of dollars, possibly many tens of thousands."
The Web site,, said macaws, which often live for up to 60 years, often sell for more than $8,000 each. Four macaws were seized.
There were also 97 cockatiels, which can sell for $100 apiece.
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