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LATIN AMERICA AUDUBON LEADERS CONDEMN ILLEGAL WILD BIRD TRADE FROM VENEZUELA

 LATIN AMERICA AUDUBON LEADERS CONDEMN ILLEGAL
 WILD BIRD TRADE FROM VENEZUELA
 NEW YORK, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Leaders of six Latin American Audubon chapters today condemned the illegal trade in wild birds from Venezuela, via Guyana, to Europe in chartered flights that circumvent agreements by many of the world's scheduled airlines.
 Meeting at National Audubon Society headquarters, they joined with Audubon President Peter A.A. Berle in calling for two actions:
 -- For the U.S. Congress to pass, and the Bush Administration to support, legislation now that would make it illegal to traffic in wild birds for the pet trade, so setting an example to the rest of the world;
 -- For international pressure on European community nations to follow the U.S. lead, and prohibit the trafficking in wild birds.
 "There is plenty of evidence to show that 65,000 and more birds, such as parrots, macaws and toucans, are being captured each year in Venezuela, shipped down to the Orinoco River to Guyana, and then flown by chartered jet to European countries -- Germany, Holland, Britain and others -- for sale," said Mary Lou Goodwin, of the Sociedad Conservacionista Audubon de Venezuela. She has been involved for 25 yeras in conservation work there.
 "This is not only illegal, but it's cruel. To capture these tropical birds they put glue on the branches, or they often chop down the trees in which they nest. Many birds are left homeless and many more die in the process. Then about half the birds die in shipment. Yet the traders can make more than enough money to cover the cost of chartering a plane to export them.
 "We know that this cruel export trade is also happening in other Latin American nations -- for example, from Brazil through Argentina, and from Guatamala through Mexico.
 "We intend to bring this issue to the attention of Venezuela's ambassadors to Europe, and ask them to raise this issue with the governments of these nations," she said.
 Zoila Esperanza Perez, of the Asociacion Audubon de El Salvador, said; "Europe and the United States provide the market for wild birds. Latin America provides the product. We are worried that this cruel trade will cause the extinction of our wildlife. The problem may be economic, but it should be addressed as the survival of nature. We want the U.S. Congress to enact and the Bush Administration to support legislation that would prohibit the import of wild birds for pets. We are fighting this issue in our own nations, and we need the support of the United States."
 The Bush Administration has held up release of a bill drafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to control the trade in wild caught birds out if concern that it would impede free trade agreements.
 Other Latin American chapter leaders meeting here were: Federico Fahsen, Guatemala; Patricia Gonzales, Mexico; Milagro de Harrouch, El Salvador; Rick Holland, Costa Rica; and Bill Adsett, Panama.
 The Latin American Audubon chapter leaders met with National Audubon Society President Berle and other leaders of this internationally active environmental organization for a four-day conference in Greenwich, Conn., at Audubon's National Environmental Education Center, and in New York City.
 Audubon has worked for more than a century on protecting birds and other wildlife in the United States and around the world. It was instrumental in ending the slaughter of egrets and other birds in Florida, Texas and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and stopping the trade in their feathers which were used to decorate ladies' hats at the turn of the century.
 The chapters members shared information about the conversation problems in their respective countries, and set a date for another international meeting in Costa Rica in November. Audubon has other chapters operating in Belize and Nicaragua, and another will soon be formed in Honduras.
 -0- 4/7/92
 /CONTACT: Audubon public affairs office, 212-546-9200/ CO: National Audubon Society ST: IN: SU:


AH-HS -- NY054 -- 5945 04/07/92 16:21 EDT
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