Camping cockatoo: New push to lift bird ban at campsites
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A yearslong fight over letting a cockatoo named Tootsie onto Rhode Island campgrounds might have finally reached a compromise.
A proposal to let some exotic pets onto state-owned campsites was vetoed in 2012 by then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Another attempt stalled in the legislature in 2015.
Now, Democratic state Rep. Evan Shanley said he's found a way to make it work after meeting with the state veterinarian and environmental officials. His bill would allow cockatoos, parakeets and other birds in the parrot family onto campgrounds but not gerbils, turtles and goldfish, which a previous version of the bill sought to allow.
"I have no idea why gerbils, turtles and goldfish were included," Shanley said.
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill Thursday. The proposal would allow up to two birds in the parrot family per campsite, so long as the birds stay inside a recreational vehicle or camper.
Warwick resident Tom Wharton has been fighting for permission to let his 23-year-old cockatoo accompany him to campgrounds around the state, as dogs and cats are allowed to do.
"She loves the outdoors," Wharton said. "There's no logical reason why she can't accompany me."
Shanley, a Warwick Democrat, took up Tootsie's cause this year. It was originally championed by his Republican predecessor, former Rep. Joe Trillo.
Wharton said he used to like to take Tootsie to a campsite near the ocean, but they were kicked out following complaints.
"She's safe, she's quiet, she loves children," Wharton said. "She's not a nuisance in any way. She's just a bird."