NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

The man whose 59 birds died while in authorities' custody is asking the New Bern Police to pay for those birds.

New Bern Police seized the birds in December as part of an investigation into Terril Byrd's possible cockfighting.

There was not enough evidence to charge  Byrd, according to District Attorney Scott Thomas.

The birds, at some point, developed a contagious disease, according to Craven County health officials.

Some died, and the rest have been euthanized, under the direction of health officials.

"My birds got sick in [New Bern Police] custody, my birds are dead because of the New Bern Police Department," Byrd said.  Byrd said this is especially egregious because he did nothing wrong, as evidenced by the lack of any cockfighting charges.

Scott Harrelson, director of the Craven County Health Department, believes the birds were already ill when police seized them.

Byrd disputes that and wants police to pay him for the expense of the birds and the cages authorities cut when the birds were seized.  Those expenses are approximately $50,000, Byrd said.

A police spokesperson was not aware of any plan to pay Byrd.

When asked about Byrd's grievances, police released the following statement:

"Our Animal Control Unit seized Mr. Byrd's chickens during the service of a search warrant.  The birds have been officially released to the Craven County Health
Department. Mr. Byrd should have been notified by the Craven County Health
Director, Scott Harrelson and Mr. Byrd was also sent a letter from [Police]
Chief Summers."

Previous Story:

No charges will be filed against the man who was at the center of an investigation into possible cockfighting.

There is not enough evidence to charge Terril Byrd, according to District Attorney Scott Thomas.

Byrd, now cleared, wants to be reunited with the dozens of chickens that police seized during the investigation.

"They were my pets," Byrd said.

Thomas has approved the release of the chickens to Byrd.  Now, it's up to New Bern Animal Control to release them, Thomas said.

"The birds mean everything to me," Byrd said.

Byrd is also hoping that New Bern Police will pay for damage that Byrd alleges they caused to his bird pens.

"They cut all my chicken pens open, damaged every one of them" when they took the birds, Byrd said.

He said officers could have simply lifted the cages to retrieve the birds.

A police spokeswoman said she was not aware of the damage, and Byrd may file a complaint to ask for monetary damages.