Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4448
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, bird (pet), bird (wildlife), dog (pit-bull), chicken, bird (other farmed)
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Person(s) in animal care
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Thursday, Apr 21, 2005

County: Benton

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Raymona Balko Beaudoin

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

Kennewick's "bird lady" was arrested April 21, 2005 after state wildlife agents and Kennewick police allegedly found hundreds of illegal and neglected birds in a raid at her 10th Avenue home.

Raymona Balko, 70, was booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of animal cruelty charges.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife also is expected to seek charges for possessing protected wildlife and live wild birds, said Sgt. John McIntosh.

What officers found at 4002 W. 10th Ave. was shocking, said Kennewick Detective Rick Runge.

"If you took all the meth houses I've been to and added them up, it wouldn't be as filthy as this house," he said.

The house and yard were filled with about 400 birds.

McIntosh estimated there to be several dozens species, including magpies, hawks, owls, pheasants, quail and more. "She had no business possessing these birds," he said.

Bruce Young with Tri-City Animal Control said his staff also seized chickens and roosters, pigeons, a goose, peacocks, as well as a couple of dogs and a cat.

Some birds were in chicken-wire cages, others were perched in trees or in bushes, and inside they were sitting on curtain rods and just about everywhere else, officers said.

Scattered throughout house and yard were dead birds in various states of decay.

And officers reported finding bird body parts and piles of bird droppings littered randomly throughout the house, where Balko reportedly lived alone.

All the animals, Young and McIntosh said, appear neglected.

This is the second time wildlife agents have seized birds from Balko's home. McIntosh said she was convicted of similar charges in 1992.

And she had been charged twice before that with wildlife violations, but those charges were later dismissed.

Balko told the Herald in an interview in 2000 she has been a fixture since 1973 at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo, where she would bring just-hatched chicks for children to see and touch.

Balko said she has a degree in bird management from the University of Nebraska and once had a federal permit to care for wild birds. But even after that expired in 1988, people still brought her injured, abused or unwanted birds to rehabilitate and care for, she said.

On Thursday, a sign in her yard read: "I've spent most of my life helping birds. The rest I've just wasted."

But neighbors have complained for decades about the noise, smell and wandering birds. Neighbors are angry the courts and others have failed to keep Balko accountable to previous court orders, including one that supposedly barred her from keeping birds.

"They have been a nuisance since we moved here in 1984," said neighbor Vickey Priest.

Runge said some neighbors also recently complained about alleged drug users using the 2.5-acre property as a refuge to get high or make illegal drugs. But an initial search Thursday found no evidence of illegal drugs or drug making.

Young said a veterinarian will check out the animals at Tri-City Animal Control. He hoped they could be restored to health and adopted, but those that can't likely will be euthanized.

McIntosh said the wild birds would undergo a similar process with a licensed Prosser rehabilitator who cares for and prepares birds and animals to return to the wild.


Case Updates

The case against Raymona Beaudoin has again been put on hold while her attorney seeks a second mental evaluation. Beaudoin, 71, is charged with first-degree animal cruelty.

A judge in July ruled she is competent to stand trial following evaluations by psychologists at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake.

However Wednesday, Judge Craig Matheson signed an order putting the case on hold because defense attorney Mason Pickett's wants her to undergo more testing by a licensed doctor or psychologist.

Beaudoin, long known as Kennewick's "bird lady," was arrested in April after Kennewick police and agents with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife raided her home.

Agents found magpies, hawks, owls, pheasants, quail, peacocks, a goose, a dog, two cats and about 100 chickens all malnourished and with no food or water accessible, court documents said.

Another hearing for her is set Nov. 9.
Source: Tri-City Herald - Sept 29, 2005
Update posted on Sep 29, 2005 - 8:58PM 
The woman known as Kennewick's "bird lady" recently underwent a mental evaluation. Her lawyer says she is offended by the request, but agreed to the evaluation. Ramona Balko is charged with one count of animal cruelty. Benton County Prosecutors say Balko will be in court later this month and the findings of the evaluation will be addressed.
Source: KNDU - May 25, 2005
Update posted on May 26, 2005 - 1:43PM 
A judge has ordered Raymona Beaudoin to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the case moves forward.
Source: KVEW42 - May 3, 2005
Update posted on May 4, 2005 - 9:50AM 

References

« WA State Animal Cruelty Map
« More cases in Benton County, WA

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