Chinese authorities arrested a man for the illegal killing of 1,000 protected birds that he claims he meant to cook in hotpots.
Local reports identified the perpetrator as Wu, 39, who was captured carrying two large bags filled with dead birds in the Chinese province of Zhejiang on Nov. 7.
The local police reportedly acted on a tip about illegal hunting activities in the mountain near Pingyang County in Wenzhou City.
Aside from the bags of dead birds, Wu was also carrying two small sound recorders, which he used to lure the birds into his makeshift bird trap.
Wu took officers to the site where he had set up a large trap made with a bamboo pole and a net. Investigators discovered more dead birds in the net, which Wu said were abandoned since he only took live birds to consume later.
In total, Wu captured 948 sparrows and 13 babbling thrushes, all of which he killed with his bare hands by breaking their necks so he could cook them in his hotpot.
In China, sparrows are protected animals recognized for their “important economic and scientific research value.” The birds were nearly eradicated after Mao Zedong ordered the extermination of sparrows in the late 1950s to the early 1960s. Meanwhile, babbling thrushes are considered a species of concern by the international community due to habitat loss.
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The local Wildlife Protection Law restricts illegal hunting of the birds. Offenders may face up to three years in jail for killing sparrows and five to 10 years for killing babbling thrushes.
Following Wu’s arrest, the Shanghai Forestry Bureau released a public warning against the consumption of wild animals, which has become popular in the country in recent years, reported South China Morning Post.
“Wild animals live in a rather dirty, complex environment with plenty of pathogenic bacteria. So they harbor many germs,” the statement read. “Eating wild animals will increase the risks of transmission of bacteria, viruses and parasites to humans. It is estimated there are at least 250 zoonotic diseases caused by pathogens.”