Activists plea for bird trap sales ban

By Wei Na Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-21 12:00:00


A bird is placed in a cage by bird hunters which is hung in a tree in Baiyun Taoist Temple, Xicheng district to lure other birds. The cage, equipped with a spring, will be closed after a bird flies in. Photos: CFP
A bird is placed in a cage by bird hunters which is hung in a tree in Baiyun Taoist Temple, Xicheng district to lure other birds. The cage, equipped with a spring, will be closed after a bird flies in. Photos: CFP

As Tianjin police have offered a reward of 50,000 yuan ($8,020) for information leading to the capture of suspects who deliberately poisoned a number of oriental white storks, animal welfare volunteers found dozens of online stores selling professional bird hunting gear.

Local animal welfare activists told the Global Times Tuesday they were drafting an open letter to the national forestry bureau to appeal for a ban on the trade in bird hunting tools.

"There were at least 20 stores selling bird hunting devices when we searched on Taobao Sunday night, and all the complaints we filed about those products to the operation platform said it was an 'invalid' response," said Wang Congcong, a member of Bird Whistle, a bird protection NGO who started a campaign against the trade in hunting tools on the online shopping platform. 

Wang posted a screen shot of the rejected reports from six volunteers on his Sina microblog and demanded a reply from Taobao, the country's largest e-commerce company, by Monday.

"Actually the volunteers took the action last March, when Taobao promised they would close such stores down, however, they're still there, selling devices to kill wild birds," said Wang.

"So far, no reply has been received from Taobao," he said. 

On Tuesday, there were no results when searching for "bird hunting devices" or "bird trapping equipment" on Taobao, however, bird call MP3 players to lure birds and bird nets are in stock under names such as "bird training device" or "bird electronic remote device."

"Gongyou Yongju," an online store registered in Hunan Province, has more than 10 kinds of digital bird sound MP3 players in stock.

The anonymous store owner said the best seller was "Generation Four of Wild Horse bird sound decoy with speakers," priced at 650 yuan. He had sold 64 such devices recently.

"It can lure all kinds of wild birds including the Lady Amherst's pheasant and owls, and we also provide nets and traps to catch them after you lure them in by playing the bird sound as a package," he said.

"DVDs of instructions are attached to turn amateurs into pros," he said.

On Tuesday, a media officer from Taobao, who declined to be named, told the Global Times that sales of bird hunting tools were banned a long time ago.

"The problem the volunteers referred to may result from some store owners changing the products' name and putting them on sale again, which wasn't caught by our computer system in time," he said.

However, such devices are also available on other online sites and in local markets.

"We'll strengthen our manual inspections, although we can't prohibit sales of all tools related to bird hunting, because they can be bought for other purposes, let alone the fact that bird  hunting tools are not actually banned according to the law," he said.

Zhang Zhengwang, an ornithologist at Beijing Normal University, said catching wild birds is very common, even though the Wild Animal Protection Law prohibits hunting without official permission.

"Most wild birds are protected animals in China, and it is totally illegal to hunt them, but many are being caught to sell on bird markets for admiration or into restaurants," said Zhang.

Some local animal welfare groups who responded to Wang's microblog appeal Monday said they are aware of the issue and also intend to take steps against the trade. 

"We are collecting statistics about this bird hunting tool business in China, and looking for cases that prove the trade has put types of wild animals in danger," said Liu Huili, director of the Wild Birds and Animal Office of Nature University, an animal welfare NGO.

"They will go into our open letter to the national forestry bureau, urging the authorities to come up with laws banning the trade," said Liu.

The Ministry of Forestry said on October 22 that it plans to strictly enforce laws against illegal hunting of wild birds and close markets that sell them, but has not mentioned about a ban on hunting tools.

Liu also said she would go to Beidagang Reservoir in Tianjin Tuesday evening to check on the well-being of the surviving storks that were found poisoned by animal volunteers on November 11. If the birds are healthy enough, they will be released, said Liu, adding that Tianjin police are still seeking the suspects involved in the crime.

Posted in: Green, Metro Beijing

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