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Judge appoints animal advocate in case of abused egret in New London

August 04, 2023 7:06 pm • Last Updated: August 04, 2023 7:39 pm

By Greg Smith

Day Staff Writer

New London ― The animal cruelty case against two Glastonbury teens charged with maiming a federally-protected species of egret at Ocean Beach Park is getting increased scrutiny in the form of court-appointed animal advocates.

New London Superior Court Judge Patrick Caruso last week approved the appointment of legal advocates from the University of Connecticut School of Law who are expected to observe and make recommendations on the outcome of the case.

UConn School of Law professor Jessica Rubin said with the historically high rate of animal cruelty cases dismissed or not prosecuted, advocates will give the case the attention it deserves.

“Sometimes that’s what it takes to shine a light on how a case is progressing,” Rubin said.

Rubin, an expert in animal law, was instrumental in the creation of what is known as Desmond’s Law, a statute passed by the state legislature in 2016 in light of the low conviction rates in animal cruelty cases. Between 2006 and 2016, 80% of the 3,723 animal cruelty cases were either dismissed or not prosecuted.

The state statute, named after an abused dog who was killed in 2012 and whose killer was able to avoid any prison time, was the first of its kind in the country at the time. It passed with the advocacy from former state representative Diana Urban, who represented Stonington and North Stonington, and pointed to the strong link between those who abuse animals and commit domestic violence.

Since its passage, supervised law students or lawyers working for free have been showing up at a host of animal cruelty cases, most involving cats and dogs. Advocates can provide legal research and recommendations on use of diversionary programs.

Rubin said this case was interesting because it raises issues at the intersection of criminal law and environmental protection. It should prove to be a good learning tool for UConn’s Animal Law Clinic students, she said.

“It will be interesting to see how the state proceeds,” she said.

The two 18-year-old men are charged in the July 3 attack, Parker Wallace and Benjamin Pavano of Glastonbury, each made initial court appearances but have yet to enter pleas. They are charged with felony animal cruelty, or the malicious maiming, torturing or killing of an animal, a class D felony.

A police report obtained this week through a Freedom of Information request by The Day, shows the two were identified as the suspects who threw rocks at and attacked an egret near Alewife Cove at Ocean Beach Park.

Police said witnesses identified two men, one in red shorts and another in pink shorts, who were among a group of five “sitting on the New London side of the creek shouting and drinking alcohol,” police said.

One witness told police he saw the two men throw rocks at an egret. Both the snowy egret and great egret - it is unclear which species the injured bird was - are listed as a threatened species by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“One of the suspects then grabbed the bird and the other boy joined ‘rough housing’ it. (The witness) then stated that one of the boys grabbed the bird by its neck and could hear them shout ‘get it, get it,” the police report states.

When a witness ran towards the two men, police said the two men started to walk away and said “we just wanted to pet the bird.” The two men then started to run and the witnessed informed the Ocean Beach lifeguards, who contacted police and sought out the men to kick them off the beach.

One witness joined lifeguards to chase one of men into the parking lot.

Police said lifeguards found the injured bird which was attempting to flap its wings and stand up but kept “flopping over,” and could not straighten its neck.

“I also observed it attempt to stand up, then fall down. The egret was able to hop onto the marsh, but fell several more times,” New London Police Officer Christina Nocita wrote in her report.

Police, at an unidentified home near Ocean Beach Park, were speaking with Pavano and another man identifeid as “suspect #2” in police reports. Wallace told officers it was him and not the man identified as “suspect #2” who had injured the bird. Wallace told officers he had switched shorts with “suspect #2.”

“Suspect #2,” despite initially being identified by a witness as one of the culprits, was eventually released after Wallace provided a statement confessing that he and Pavano “chased some seagulls into the water” until they were yelled at by a witness.

The egret was never found despite a search by neighbors, lifeguards and DEEP representatives.

Last week’s court appearances were attended by UConn teaching fellow Tara Cooley and Alewife Cove Conservancy founder and co-chairman Edward Lamoureux.

Lamoureux said he was at court to represent the non-profit group which is “dedicated to the protection, preservation and enhancement of Alewife Cove and all the wildlife in and around it.“

“Everybody in the Alewife Cove Conservancy and the community was extremely disturbed and distraught over this very unfortunate incident,” he said. ”It really touched a lot of people’s heartstrings.“

Updated: Feb 10, 2023 at 05:42 PM

State legislation introduced in January proposes providing a grant to the Alewife cove Conservancy to restore and dredge the cove after it was damaged from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The 1st Annual Alewife Cove Conservancy Endless Summer FUNdraiser is a huge success!

Published by The Day, October 24. 2019 12:16PM 

The Alewife Cove Conservancy raised about $12,000 on Oct. 12 at Ocean Beach Park as it works to increase awareness about the body of water that runs through New London and Waterford.

The event, co-chaired by Edward Lamoureux and former New London Schools Superintendent Chris Clouet and featuring a performance by the Rivergods, brought about 325 people together to hear about issues involving the cove, including the need to work with state and federal agencies to have the cove studied and dredged.

Money raised will be used for outreach programs, citizen scientists programs, cove clean-up days, mailings, website management, state and federal filing fees, grant writing and other needs.

The newly formed conservancy aims at preserving and revitalizing Alewife Cove by working with Save the Sound to remove the dam on Fenger Brook at the headwaters of the cove on Niles Hill Road. This would, the group says, allow the alewife herring to migrate back into the fresh water to spawn.

The first Alewife Cove Endless Summer Fundraiser was a way to introduce the public to the Alewife Cove Conservancy. Another event is set for Sept. 19, 2020 at Ocean Beach Park.

For more information, visit

Waterford group to remove dam to allow alewives to spawn

Published by The Day, November 10. 2019 6:35PM 

By Sten Spinella   Day staff writer

 email:   Twitter: SSpinella927

Waterford — Alewife Cove has been difficult on its namesake fish for decades.

A dam installed in the 1970s that blocks the cove just north of Niles Hill Road prevented access to alewife herring spawning waters. So Edward Lamoureux, co-chairman of the Alewife Cove Conservancy, likes to tell a joke.

"They go out to sea for four years, they return to where they would spawn, they get up there, and the first one up says, 'Dam!'"

The Alewife Cove Conservancy is on the precipice of killing that joke, as it received a $187,282 grant this November from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to remove the dam.

A news release from the Long Island Sound Study indicates that $2.6 million in grants were awarded to a number of local groups to help improve the health of Long Island Sound. This includes a $50,000-plus grant to the City of Groton to study risks and vulnerabilities to coastal resilience and develop a plan of action for sea-level rise.

Another $15,000 was awarded to the Niantic River Watershed Committee for a social marketing program aimed at reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizer on lawns in the Niantic River watershed in East Lyme and Waterford.

The $187,282 grant awarded to the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound, the two organizations working closely with the  the Alewife Cove Conservancy, requires $128,280 in matching funds from the three groups for a total of $315,562.

"The project will remove a barrier to fish passage, educating and engaging the community and students in project implementation and monitoring at Alewife Cove, New London, Connecticut," the release reads. "It will restore three miles of riverine migratory corridor benefiting alewife, sea lamprey and American eel that migrate between rivers and Long Island Sound." 

In 2018, the LISFF also awarded a $99,987 grant that required matching funds of $100,000 to the three groups to do the planning for the removal of the dam.

At the time, a LISS said the project would provide access to spawning, rearing and refuge habitat for alewife herring, as well as other species.

Lamoureux said the disruption of the alewife herring's ecosystem in the cove was unintentional but damaging. The dam was installed in Fenger Brook at the headwaters to Alewife Cove in the 1970s to create a pond near an apartment complex.

"What it did was, is it stopped the alewife fish migration back up into the freshwater watershed where they come from the ocean to go back to where they spawn," Lamoureux said.

An October column in The Day titled "Bringing alewives back into Alewife Cove" described the issue facing the fish — alewives, once abundant in North America, "are now greatly reduced in number, largely because of habitat loss and extensive dam construction that interfered with spawning migration."

Alewives have historically been consumed by other marine life, birds of prey and human beings. There are still alewives in the cove, but not like they used to be. Lore has it "that during the spawning season, one could walk across streams on the backs of the fish," the ACC's website notes.

Lamoureux hopes the dam removal will revitalize the cove's complex ecosystems. He recalls a time from his youth when alewives, along with blue shell crabs and other animals, were plentiful in the cove.

"I live in Waterford now, but I was born and bred in New London, and I was down in that cove every day as a kid," Lamoureux said. "I was pulling out bushels of blue shell crabs there, I was fishing and swimming, and we all grew up in, on and around the cove."

Lamoureux thinks support from the Town of Waterford and City of New London stems from those memories. An Oct. 12 event organized by the ACC raised $12,000 and was attended by about 325 people, many of whom grew up together and hadn't seen one another in decades.

"This Alewife Cove Conservancy has touched a nerve," Lamoureux said. "We're reaching across the cove and shaking hands and we're coming together."

The Nature Conservancy celebrates the establishment of Connecticut’s first National Estuarine Research Reserve

Published January 14. 2022 7:24PM | Updated January 14. 2022 7:36PM

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday announced the establishment of a new National Estuarine Research Reserve along the southeastern coast, the first in Connecticut.

The program is designed to protect and study estuaries and their surrounding wetlands — unique ecosystems that exist in the places where rivers meet the sea. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a partnership between NOAA and coastal states. NOAA provides guidance and funding, while state departments or universities work with local partners to manage the sites.

Located along the southeastern coast of the state, the newly announced reserve spans the lower Connecticut River, the lower Thames River, most of the Connecticut waters of eastern Long Island Sound and western Fishers Island Sound. It also encompasses state-owned land in Groton, Lyme and Old Lyme. The boundaries of the Connecticut NERR also include traditional lands of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Mohegan Tribe, Western Nehântick Tribal Nation, Hammonasset Tribe, Wappinger Tribe and Wangunks Tribe.

The Connecticut NERR encompasses a total of 52,160 acres and a range of ecosystems, including coastal forests and grasslands, intertidal marshes, beaches and bluffs, rocky reefs and seagrass meadows, including 36% of the vitally important but imperiled Long Island Sound eelgrass ecosystem.

The new reserve is the 30th in the national reserve system.

“Establishing the Connecticut NERR is a critical step toward enhancing the preservation of Connecticut’s coastal and marine habitats, wildlife and heritage,” said Chantal Collier, director of marine systems conservation at The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “The Nature Conservancy is proud to have worked closely with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut, NOAA and other partners to bring this new level of protection to the Sound that will help us address the challenges facing our estuary and sustain its benefits for local communities.”

“Now, we are turning our attention to supporting effective implementation of the Connecticut NERR Management Plan that was developed by state and local partners," Collier said. "Successful implementation will help ensure that this reserve realizes its environmental, research, and educational potential.”

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from Friday, October 4th discussing our First Annual Endless Summer FUNdraiser!