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Artist modifying Sacramento scultpure being blamed for killing birds

Changes being made to Sacramento art scultpure some say kills birds
Changes being made to Sacramento art scultpure some say kills birds 02:06

SACRAMENTO — Work is underway to modify a piece of public art that's being blamed for killing birds in Sacramento.

We first told you about this problem in January when a wildlife rescue group found dozens of dead birds inside the sculpture.

A team of workers is welding and sawing away on the 20-foot-tall sculpture titled "Esperanza," located at the Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) light rail station along Franklin Boulevard.

Artist David Best installed the massive metal structure in 2015 and said he was surprised to hear it became a death trap for birds.

"It was an accident," he said. "I had no intention of making a cage to trap birds. It's been weighing very heavily on me."

Last year, a great horned owl was found struggling inside and fire crews were called to cut it out. It later had to be euthanized due to extensive injuries.

About two dozen other dead birds have also been found.

Members of the Sacramento Wildlife Care Association say gaps in the hollow metal arch allow birds to get inside, but they can't fly out.

SacRT says they couldn't fix the problem because it's a commissioned piece of public art.

"We're not allowed to make any modifications to the sculpture, so we did need the artist to come out and actually make these repairs," said SacRT spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez.

Now, the artist has designed new metal sheets to cover the gaps.

"The plan is to patch all the holes," Best said.

Access panels are being created on the base of each arch so rescuers can free any birds that still get in.

"They will be able to come and open it and periodically inspect to make sure that there aren't any trapped birds there," Best said.

SacRT is paying the artist more than $17,000 to fix the sculpture. Work is scheduled to be completed by Wednesday.

"It caused me a lot of grief to think of somebody relating my work to death," Best said.

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