New push to lift bird ban at campsites

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A years-long 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 last week. 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.


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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."

Man fined over graffiti wedding proposal doesn't regret it

SHEFFIELD LAKE, Ohio — A man who spray-painted a marriage proposal on an Ohio shopping center has been fined for criminal mischief and sentenced to community service but says he doesn't regret it.

After all, she said yes.

The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria reports a magistrate in Sheffield Lake told 23-year-old Kyle Stump that the more traditional down-on-one-knee proposal might have been preferable.

Stump says he thinks authorities overreacted.

Stump pleaded no contest this week in mayor's court in Sheffield Lake, about 20 miles west of Cleveland. He was ordered to pay over $300 in restitution for cleaning the wall, and his community service might include painting fire hydrants.

The mayor says romantic gesture or not, it's still a crime with a penalty.

Associated Press