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Poisoned storks released back into the wild

By Zheng Jinran  (China Daily)

13:37, November 22, 2012

Oriental white storks are released into the wild on Wednesday after recovering from poisoning at the Beidagang Natural Reserve in Tianjin. Jia Lei / for China Daily

Thirteen Oriental white storks nursed back to health after being poisoned by poachers were released into the wild on Wednesday in Tianjin, as authorities pledged to step up efforts to protect wetland animals.

"The government has introduced more measures to protect these storks and other migratory birds, such as allocating more funds and more people to inspect the large wetland," Xu Yanhu, deputy director for publicity of the city's Dagang district, said on Wednesday.

The municipal government has issued a ban on hunting wildlife and will start inspections of markets, restaurants and hotels to make sure they are not engaged in the sale or consumption of migratory species.

People hunt the birds with nets or pesticide in autumn, many of which are then sold to restaurants at high prices, said a resident who did not want to be identified out of fear of reprisal.

He added that he occasionally sees poisoned birds when he rides to work in the nearby oilfield.

"It's a regular practice that we (residents) all know about," said Shi Jingsheng, a volunteer who visits Beidagang Natural Reserve frequently to take photos and protect birds. "We find bags with pesticide hidden among the reeds sometimes, but hunters usually spread poisoned fish and other bait secretly at night, leaving us no clue with which to catch them."

Since Nov 11, about 20 Oriental white storks have been found dead after eating Kebaiwei, a pesticide containing organophosphates that attacks the nervous system. Another 13 were poisoned but survived.

Scores of volunteers rushed to the wetland to rescue more birds and uncovered six pools containing the pesticide.

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