Neighbors Sue Seattle Family Over Bird-Feeding Operation

A couple faces a lawsuit after feeding neighborhood birds for two years.

ByABC News
August 13, 2015, 6:29 PM
Crows lining up for a feeding seen through a poop-stained window.
Crows lining up for a feeding seen through a poop-stained window.
Courtesy Anna Johnson

— -- A couple in Seattle whose young daughter gained international attention two years ago for feeding crows and receiving trinkets from the birds has now been slapped with a lawsuit by their neighbors.

The public nuisance lawsuit against Lisa and Gary Mann was filed Monday in King County by attorney Anna Johnsen on behalf of neighbors Matt Ashbach and Christine Yokan.

The issue started in September 2013, when the Mann family began regularly feeding crows in their neighborhood, eventually attracting large numbers of animals, including seagulls, pigeons, rats and other vermin, according to the lawsuit.

After the Mann family began feeding the animals, many neighbors observed a noticeable and growing rat population in their yards and the surrounding area, according to the lawsuit.

The Mann family was to be served with the court papers today, according to Johnsen, who said she was still waiting for confirmation that the couple had been served as of Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit also notes that the Mann family's neighbors signed a petition over "unsanitary conditions" that was presented to the City of Seattle Neighborhood Liaison Attorney, but that no action was taken.

"Fifty-one neighbors have signed a petition saying please stop the high intensity of animal feeding," Johnsen told ABC News today. "It's become a health issue with bird excrement and animals attracted."

The complaint also alleges that the Mann family's neighbors have to endure frequent periods of excessive noise from dozens of birds squawking from dawn until dusk, and it notes that neighbors suffering from severe peanut allergies have also contacted the Mann family to cease or drastically reduce their bird feeding operation to no effect.

The complaint accuses the Mann family of feeding birds as many as six times per day, even hiring "employees" to assist with the feeding.

PHOTO: Across the way, over 50 pigeons lined up for food the defendants provide.
Across the way, over 50 pigeons lined up for food the defendants provide.

"To paint a picture for you, there are multiple feeding stations that the adults of the family have constructed, including an elevated feeding stage approximately four feet off the ground and ten feet by ten feet where bird feed is changed throughout the day," Johnsen said.

Lisa Mann, the mother of Gabi Mann, is the one physically doing the majority of the feeding, Johnsen said, noting that the scope and size of the operation is not the work of a child.

"Part of the reason they are filing [the lawsuit] now is they've exhausted every other possible way. They've decided enough is enough," Johnsen said.

The Mann family’s actions have caused extensive damage to the plaintiffs' property due to the acidity levels in bird urine and feces -- including their house, deck, yard lights, walkways, sheds and other structures, according to the lawsuit.

Ashbach and Yokan are seeking $200,000 in damages, which includes the cost of cleaning and repairing damaged property.

The Mann family did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.