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February 12, 2011

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Police on trail of hunters who poisoned birds

HUNTERS poisoning migrant birds and selling them to restaurants are being sought by police.

Officers are trying to trace the group who killed at least 44 birds at Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve this week.

The gang's driver was caught by police while transporting the dead birds. Police discovered the bodies of 44 birds - two young swans, 16 mallard ducks and 26 spot-billed ducks.

The gang were captured at work by surveillance cameras, but law enforcement teams arrived too late to apprehend them.

Footage, recorded late on Wednesday afternoon, shows a man throwing bait around the shore to attract birds, said the director of the reserve's management department, surnamed Xiao.

Then he sprinkled small bags of what Xiao believes was strong poison.

"The recording shows that the man later collected dead birds along the shore and put them on a boat," said Xiao,

"We believed that they would deliver the birds by road, so police lay in wait."

The next day, following a high-speed car chase, officers apprehended the driver, a 58-year-old local resident surnamed Gu, in Chenjia Town.

Gu led officers to a farmhouse, where officers spotted several freezers, indicating the house could have been used for storing carcasses.

A woman in the house remained silent when police confronted her.

However, police and officials did not have a search warrant and had to withdraw. When they returned 30 minutes later, the woman was gone and the freezers were empty.

A Chongming police official surnamed Shi said he could not comment on that incident as the case was still under investigation.

Reserve management officials have cleaned up the shore to ensure there are no more avian casualties.

An official surnamed Zhang with the resort said the hunter could be jailed for two years.

Xiao said hunters would probably sell the bird meat to restaurants after removing organs that contained poison.


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