Man sentenced to 10 years in prison for hunting wild birds

08:40, May 05, 2011      

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A man in northeast China's Liaoning Province has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for hunting 20 protected wild birds in a nature reserve, the heaviest penalty for poaching since the reserve was established 20 years ago.

Diao Chengqi, a local farmer, was convicted and received a 10-year sentence, along with a 20,000-yuan fine (about 3,000 U.S. dollars), late last month for illegally poaching and killing rare wild animals, said a spokesman with the Laotieshan Nature Reserve Administration in the port city of Dalian on Wednesday.

Officials said Diao hunted 32 wild birds on Sept. 30, 2010, including 20 scops owls and sparrow hawks that were under state protection. He caught the birds using two nets he had set up two days earlier.

Seven of the 20 rare birds were killed while struggling with Diao.

Diao was arrested that same day when heading down the mountain with a bag filled with the rare birds.

Located in the Liaodong Peninsula, the nature reserve is along the route where millions of migratory birds fly every year.

The reserve has over 300 bird species, which account for 20 percent of the country's total. Of these, over 50 species are under state protection, according to the administration.

For generations, hunting birds had been a custom for local residents in the Laotieshan area and it had even not been deemed illegal by them before the nature reserve was established in 1981, said Pang Bin, deputy director of the administration.

However, poaching has been reduced in the past few years after the local government strengthened protection efforts and law enforcement in the reserve.

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