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Gramercy Park Dead Finch Probe Hits a Wall

By Amy Zimmer | March 11, 2011 4:15pm | Updated on March 12, 2011 10:13am

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

GRAMERCY PARK — State and local investigations into the mysterious Gramercy Park zebra finch incident have hit a wall.

Without witnesses willing to come forward, investigators are facing a challenge.

"At this point the alleged violator has not admitted to releasing these birds," said Lori Severino, spokesperson for the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. "Being a violation of the law and absent a confession we would need a witness who is willing to sign a statement stating that they saw him release these birds."

The bird release, she explained, was in violation of Environmental Conservation Law 11-0507, aka "the nuisance wildlife control license," which requires official permission to release wildlife.

The National Arts Club, O. Aldon James — who has kept many birds and other animals in the club's historic building — admitted to the Daily News to buying the birds but not to releasing them.

Several of the club's board members expressed sympathy for the birds and confusion about the allegations.

"I can’t put the story together in my head because I know [James] loves birds," said board member Marguerite Jossel. "The whole story seems impossible to me."

The board's executive vice-president Diane Bernhard said, "I think it’s sad when anything is hurt — animals, people, anything. It’s painful. That’s all I can say. It’s very painful."