LINK Posted on Sun, Sep. 04, 2005.
Re the Aug. 30 Metro Brief 6 accused of selling protected birds and other recent stories: Tropical Audubon Society members include all ethnicities and races, united to preserve our environment while emphasizing bird life and habitat.
It is very troubling for our organization, and for its Cuban-American members in particular, that birds are trapped in Cuba and then brought to Miami for sale. Miamians are illegally buying these birds and, more important, endangering Cuba's wildlife and depleting its songbirds, which are world treasures.
The species described in the stories, including Cuban grassquits and painted buntings, are commonly found for sale at the Opa-Locka Hialeah Flea Market and at several pet shops in South Florida. These species are preferred because they are tiny but hardy, a great combination for the smuggler who brings them in plastic tubes the size of toilet tissue rolls or stuffed in underwear. The Guide to the Birds of the West Indies says that, ``Due to deforestation and illegal exportation of the Cuban grassquit for the cagebird trade, this bird has declined considerably in numbers and range.''
The Tropical Audubon Society understands that this trade flourishes, in part, due to the ignorance of both sellers and buyers. But repeat smugglers, many of whom are Cuban American, should know well by now that what they are doing not only is illegal in their adopted country, but is also damaging to their country of birth.
We applaud the efforts of the authorities who implemented Operation Bunting, and we ask that the courts impose the harshest possible sentences and fines on smugglers as a deterrent to potential smugglers.
CYNTHIA GUERRA, executive director, Tropical Audubon Society, Miami