Demand for Rare Songbirds Leads to Increase in Inhumane Smuggling Operations | Inside Edition

Demand for Rare Songbirds Leads to Increase in Inhumane Smuggling Operations

With an estimated 50 billion birds in the world, why are so many being smuggled into the United States? Because these are rare songbirds with beautiful voices.

As international air-travel slowly begins to resume, concerns about COVID-19 aren't the only thing officials are worrying about. There's also been a noticeable increase in bird-smuggling using inhumane methods.

One traveler was recently caught with 35 birds sewn into the lining of his jacket. They were allegedly sedated and stuffed inside hair-curlers.

Customs and border-protection specialist Ginger Perone told Inside Edition that she recently seized 60 birds that were hidden inside a suitcase. Several did not survive. 

“Between being sedated and then also confined, a lot of times they don't all survive,” Perone said, adding that the practice is “cruel” and “inhumane.”

So with an estimated 50 billion birds in the world, why are so many being smuggled into the United States? Because these are rare songbirds with beautiful voices.

Inside Edition was shown several finches whose owners say they were legally imported that were trained to compete in singing competitions. The first bird to sing 50 notes wins.

The finches can be worth thousands of dollars each. And their owners say they’re disgusted by the smuggling operations that are hurting the reputation of their beautiful sport.

"They make us look like we're doing something illegal in the park,” Ray Harinarain told Inside Edition. Harinarain is the self-proclaimed "Bird King" of New York.

"My thoughts about the smugglers — I think they should jail them. I think they should set an example, so this can stop,” Harinarain added.

The State Department estimates that 2 to 5 million wild birds are illegally trafficked every year worldwide.

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