Child Who Befriended Crows, Became Viral Sensation, Targeted by Lawsuit

Crows fly under a crescent moon. An 8-year-old girl in Seattle has incited the wrath of her neighbors for feeding crows in large numbers. Dado Ruvic/REUTERS

The crow: the bird that is not quite the raven.

One of the most intelligent bird species, crows are known to hang around busy hiking trails, dead animal carcasses, the backyards of fraternities, parking lots, and other places where they can scavenge for food. But it turns out that not everyone is a fan of crows. Residents of Seattle on Portage Bay filed a massive lawsuit against the parents of a girl who became famous early this year for feeding the birds in large numbers, and collecting items that they dropped from their beaks in return.

The lawsuit alleges that Gary Mann, an oncologist, and Lisa Mann ignored peaceful requests from neighbors to stop their child from feeding crows. According to a story from the BBC, the Manns' 8-year-old daughter developed a relationship with the birds when they began to drop shiny objects in return for food. The family collected earrings, pearls, and beads that were delivered by the animals, and kept them in a treasure trove. Online, the BBC feature proliferated as a heartwarming human interest story involving local wildlife. It was emblazoned onto the Huffington Post's "Good News" page, which compiles such stories.

But "the good news" has now led to legal action. Reports from The Seattle Times indicated that disputes in the neighborhood over the crow-feeding have been going on for months, with police involvement, petitions and nasty words all around.

The Times reported that a jaw-dropping $200,000 civil case was brought Monday by the family's neighbors, one of them a pension fund investment manager and the other an ear, nose and throat specialist. The price of a home in Portage Bay is about $2 million, based on real estate websites from the area. The lawsuit alleges:

"These animals and their noise, filth and fecal matter are injurious to health or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of the life and property."

The trial has been set for next year, probably because there are 200,000 other lawsuits waiting to be resolved.