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Positive outcome to bird smuggling trial

Positive outcome to bird smuggling trial

Bird smuggling or trafficking in endangered species is an abhorrent practice that not only threatens New Zealands native bird populations but is also cruel and inhumane.

Jockey Jensen who heads the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Special Investigation Group (SPIG) had this to say after the guilty verdict of Roy Nichols and Scott Piggott last week for their role in the illegal importation of 26 parrot eggs in March 2001.

Mr Jensen described the investigation as long and complex requiring considerable resources that drew upon witnesses from Australia and Thailand.

This guilty verdict is an enormous tribute to all the people who have worked so hard on the case.

People trafficking in endangered species will go to incredible lengths to conceal their activities. In this case a carrier strapped 26 parrot eggs to her body, in other instances smugglers have taped the legs of lizards to prevent them moving inside a suitcase they were stacked three high on top of each other, he said.

The investigation involved the Wildlife Enforcement Group, made up of representatives from MAF, the Department of Conservation, and New Zealand Customs, as well as overseas liaison with the Royal Thai Police.

These two men have placed our entire biosecurity at risk for personal gain. As a result our native bird population has potentially been exposed to pests and diseases, the consequences of which MAF is still investigating, he said.

Mr Jensen was referring to the psittacine pox response which was initiated in July this year by MAF when two rosellas were found to have died of the disease. Although the source of the pox has not yet been discovered, bird smuggling cannot be ruled out as one of the pathways.

Mr Piggot and Mr Nichols will be sentenced on 29 November.

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