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Authorities gear up for poaching season

(Global Times)

08:45, October 26, 2012

A flock of birds takes off at the Dongtan Wetland. Around 1 million migratory birds stop over or stay in Shanghai each winter, according to the Shanghai Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT

Local wild animal protection authorities are stepping up efforts this year to crack down on wild bird poachers, as the usual flocks of migratory birds are expected to arrive in the city next month, the Shanghai Morning Post reported Thursday.

Around this time each year, Shanghai becomes a hunting ground for wild bird poachers, who prey on the animals as they migrate south for the winter. Although illegal, bird poaching is a moneymaker for its practitioners, who sell the birds to local markets and restaurants for consumption.

"We will closely watch areas such as Chongming Island and the wetlands in Nanhui, where poaching had been reported in previous years," said Pei Enle, director of the Shanghai Wild Animal Protection Station.

Authorities have removed 35 bird nets in the forests of the Caolu and Lingang areas of Pudong New Area and eight nets in the forests of Jinshan district in their most recent campaign, which started earlier this month.

Last year, poachers set up more than 1,000 nets in a garden on Chongming Island as the birds flew through last winter, according to a report in the Shanghai Evening Post last year. Many of the birds were sold to local restaurants, where a pair of wild mandarin ducks fetched up to 1,000 yuan ($160).

These restaurants cater to customers who believe that eating wild birds can help them build up their constitutions before winter.

Pei said animal protection authorities are working with police to investigate food markets and restaurants to curb the demand for the birds. "Anyone found capturing or selling wild birds will be punished under the law," Pei said.

Last year, two fishermen were sentenced to about three years in prison for selling 57 wild ducks and two cygnets that they poisoned in the Shanghai Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve, according to the news website xinmin.cn.

Illegal fishing boats often approach the reserve from the East China Sea in the early morning or late afternoon to poison wild birds, according to a vice director surnamed Xiao from the Shanghai Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve. "We plan to send out boats with inspectors to watch over the sea and the intertidal zone 24 hours a day from next month to February," Xiao said.

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