Often times those of us that put out feeders for small wild animals, birds or feral animals we begin to see them in a similar way as we do our pets and we become their caretakers and worry about them when we have not seen them. In Renton that is exactly the issue. Several residents in the area have multiple bird feeders and they are stocked up and ready to feed their normal array of birds that visit their yards daily. However, they seem to be missing.
Paul Oullette said "our birds are gone. Why?" The winter months usually bring many birds to his yard but not this year. He went on to say "you get more and more birds because they're hungry, there's no food out there." This year the little flickers and finches, and the hummingbirds and chickadees seem to all but gone. Paul said "I spend usually $30 a month on bird seed, and I haven't bought any now for three months." He is not the only one who is missing his birds.
In Renton's Rolling Hills subdivision they have noticed the same thing. All of the feeders are full and the birds are mostly gone. People in the area think they know why the birds are missing. They believe it's being caused by the new water meters that were recently installed. The new meters are called "smart meters" and they automatically transmit data about five times a day. Renton spokeswoman Preeti Shridhar said "so the payback for this is pretty phenomenal," as they are saving them a great deal of money.
The new meters have caused a great deal of controversy across the country and they are spurring backlash, with local groups claiming everything from inaccurate billing to human health hazards. Many residents are also worried about the low-level radio frequencies hurting their wildlife. In Renton, local leaders insist the meters are safe. Preeti said "one of the things is we made sure that the frequencies that these meters used are FCC approved and regulated." Paul and others would like the city to implement a moratorium on any additional meters until someone has studied their effects on the wildlife. The city's Utilities Committee will be looking into the issue during a public hearing on Feb. 25, 2013.
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