Sun, Aug 12, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Blue magpies stolen from nest

GREEDY GRABBER Three chicks of the protected species are believed to have been taken for sale on the black market, where one such bird can sell for around NT$80,000

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Four Formosan blue magpie chicks have been stolen from a nest near Taipei's Neigou Creek (內溝溪), sparking concerns for the safety of the national bird.

The Taipei City Government yesterday urged the public not to sell species protected by law, an act that is illegal.

The Formosan blue magpie is a protected species that is the national bird and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) campaign logo.

Formosan blue magpies nesting near Neihu District's ecology display center at Neigou Creek have attracted many birdwatchers, the Neihu District Office said.

Lu Ching-hua (盧青華), secretary of the office, said that four Formosan blue magpie chicks were reported stolen after admirers had gone to pay a visit to a nest.

The birdwatchers said the mother was circling around the nest in distress.

A Formosan blue magpie sells for as much as NT$80,000 on the black market.

Lu said the office and residents of Neihu called on the thief not to sell the chicks, emphasizing that selling magpies is illegal and punishable with a fine of NT$300,000.

"We are heartbroken over the missing chicks. It took a lot of effort to create an environment suitable for the magpies and we don't want some greedy person to ruin everything," Lu said.

Taipei City's Department of Civil Affairs yesterday also called on the public not to disturb magpies and to respect the environment. City government officials said the department would dispatch local police to strengthen surveillance efforts.

The department said there were between 40 and 50 magpies nesting in the area, but the number of birds has decreased to between 20 and 30 as a result of visitors disturbing the birds.

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