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Bill Would Ban Rice At Weddings

February 12, 1985 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Saying it isn’t healthy for birds, a state legislator has proposed a bill that would ban the traditional showering of newlyweds with uncooked rice at weddings in Connecticut.

″An Act Prohibiting The Use Of Uncooked Rice At Nuptial Affairs″ would provide that ″no person shall throw, fling, cast or hurl any uncooked rice at any time during the celebration of any marriage,″ according to Rep. Mae S. Schmidle’s proposal.

The ″statement of purpose″ of the Newtown Republican’s bill says it would ″prevent injury and death of birds as a result of ingesting raw rice thrown at weddings.″

″The rice that’s left, that’s not in your hair or on your suit or in your bouquet, you leave for the birds,″ she explained.

″Unfortunately, when the birds eat the raw rice, they cannot digest it. When it gets in their stomachs, it expands and causes them to have violent deaths. I’ve heard from several ministers who say that the next morning after a wedding, they see all these birds toppled over because they got poisoned by the rice,″ Mrs. Schmidle said.

Although she said the Audubon Society thinks the idea ″is wonderful,″ a check with three Connecticut Audubon members produced no such assessment of the idea.

″It sounds crazy,″ said Roland C. Clement of Norwalk, a past president of the Connecticut Audubon Society and currently president of the Connecticut Ornithological Association.

″I have 50 years of professional experience as a practicing ornithologist and I’ve never heard of such a thing before. Of course, there can always be a first time, but I would have to see some evidence before I would promote the idea.″

Asked if he thought it was possible that birds would be killed by raw rice, Clement said: ″I personally doubt it.″

Karl Wagener, a former top official with the Connecticut Audubon Society who now heads the state Council on Environmental Quality, also questioned the need for Mrs. Schmidle’s bill.

″I’ve never heard of anything like that ever, and I read an awful lot of bird-oriented literature,″ he said.

David Emerson, assistant director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, said the topic had never come up in any discussions he knew of within the society.

Mrs. Schmidle said she thought there was at least one state that outlaws the throwing of rice at weddings because of the danger to birds. She did not know what state it was.

Her bill would impose a $50 fine for anyone caught throwing rice at a wedding.

Tossing cooked rice at newleyweds would solve the problem, Mrs. Schmidle acknowledged. But she said that, too, would have its drawbacks.

″Then you’d have to throw it in lumps,″ she said.