|Birds n Ways - An Important Message!
FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE, INC.
March 26, 1998
FLORIDA BIRD THEFTS
On Tuesday, March 10, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, thieves crept silently up to the Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary in Seffner, Florida. They cut through chain-link fences to gain access to the aviary yard. Within a few short hours they managed to wipe out a lifetime of research and dedication to the almost extinct Cuban Amazon. Ramon Noegel, a world renowned aviculturist, was devastated with this loss, not only had the thieves disrupted a 35 year genetic research study of the Cuban Amazon, they had also stolen his beloved pet, a 44 year old Panama Amazon. The scariest part of this is that no one heard a thing, even though there were 5 large guard dogs patrolling the property. The cage fronts were cut open like a door to gain access to the birds. Why didn't anyone hear the birds' frantic screams as they were cornered in the cage and bagged? Perhaps because they were gassed or sedated, maybe that is why the ferocious dogs did not growl or attack the thieves.
During the last six months there has been at least eight major bird thefts in the Gulf Coast and Central Florida area, the latest occurring just nine days after the Life Fellowship theft. John and Mary Geip's Raintree Forest Aviaries in St. Cloud, was the most recent victim of the bird theft ring. The scenario was the same, cut through fences, an attack dog that did not make a sound and amazon parrots that did not protest when ripped from their cut cages. It has not been proven that the animals are gassed or sedated, but what other explanation is there?
During the last eight robberies alone, 232 birds have been stolen, valued at approximately $312,450.00
September 24, 1997, Wayne Davis of Tampa, Florida had 30 birds stolen in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. Two days later, Lillian Kondracki's aviary was broken into during the early hours of the morning and 10 birds were taken; they again robbed her place in October and November. December 2, 1997, again during a rainstorm, the thieves pulled their truck up to the back property fence of Bill and Louise Mooty of Cocoa, Florida, they cut through the chainlink fence, shot out the security lights, cut off doors to cages and stole away with 48 birds, ranging from Hyacinth Macaws to a lone Jardine's parrot. Their lifelong collection of birds, their "retirement income" was wiped out. The thieves then took a Christmas break because they did not surface again until January 28, 1998. This time they stole away with breeder birds from Edna Barrows of Plant City. The income from the babies these birds produced paid the Barrows mortgage payments, now they are without their second income and no way to replace their stock. Just days later on February 2, 1998, Ross Griffith's aviary, in the Ft, Myers area, was broken into, same M.O., cut fences, cut cages, dog didn't bark, birds didn't make noise. Ross doesn't have the heart to set up again, he will no longer breed birds. The Bird Shop, a pet shop in Longwood, Florida was broken into on February 22, 1998, 51 birds, along with carriers, were stolen.
These are not the only thefts, for the past two to three years, south Florida has been hit with a string of similar bird thefts, ranging from just a couple birds to large collections being wiped out in a single night. They have even backed up trucks and slide the entire breeding cages onto the trucks.
One aviculturist, found himself dazed as his mind whirled with the unrealness of what he was seeing as he walked into his aviary. His mind fought to grasp anything that made some kind of sense. Strewn all over the floor were parrot chicks, some thrashing and dying, others trampled, and some dead from the shear cold. The images in his mind started to focus as nest boxes with lids ajar came into view. Suddenly reality hit, all too hard. Thieves had come in the night and ripped parent birds from their nests. Along with the parents came the babies that fell to their deaths. The babies were meaningless to the thieves, it was the producers they were after. As if stealing weren't bad enough, the cruelty went beyond imagination.
Another thief had thrown a pillowcase to the side of the road, a pillowcase that cried. Upon opening the pillowcase a female grey with her wing severely injured had been left for dead, but worse still, her mate who had been a hand raised chick, now ten years old, was already dead.
Shortly after another robbery, a flight cage of drowned African greys was found dumped in a lake. One can only imagine the cries of terror that filled the thieves' vehicle. Cries that surely rose to a deafening pitch, and would be heard by anyone remotely close by. Rather than risk discovery, it was safer to ditch the bounty in the nearest lake.
The real tragedy of these thefts is the abuse our feathered friends are being put through, ripped from their safe cages, where they are fed and protected, and thrust into the night, slung around like a sack of potatoes. They are scared to death, and probably only about 60% will live to see another home. The bird community is sitting on edge, aviculturists are not sleeping through the night, (But when did we ever?). I hear from everyone that they are sleeping in shifts, patrolling their property at night, waking at the slightest sound, or waking from frantic dreams of chasing birds thieves.
In most of these cases the birds have never been recovered, which leads us to believe that they are being shipped to other states, or most likely, out of the country. U.S. Fish and Wildlife has begun to take an interest in these thefts and most recently, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reviewing the cases in conjunction with the Bird Theft Committee, set up by the Florida Federation of Aviculture, Inc. During the last eight robberies alone, 232 birds have been stolen, valued at approximately $312,450.00.
If you have any information concerning the robberies, please contact the Florida Federation of Aviculture, Inc., Bird Theft Committee at 813-677-5200 or send email to Jean Pattison or Linda Meade. All information sent to these two email addresses will be kept in the strictest confidence. No one will see it except Jean Pattison and Linda Meade and nothing will be acted upon without verification by Linda and Jean. Sources will not be devulged.
Pictures, list of stolen birds, what's being done, how you can help
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