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Police detain group of rare bird smugglers in Russia’s Far East

The law enforcement personnel found 10 gyrfalcons onboard the vessel

MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Police in the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula jointly with the Federal Security Service and the National Guard have saved ten gyrfalcons, an endangered bird of prey, from being smuggled abroad, Interior Ministry Spokeswoman Irina Volk told TASS.

A group that captured and shipped gyrfalcons from Kamchatka has been detained in a joint operation. "The vessel was seized shortly after it had departed from a berth in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The law enforcement personnel found 10 birds onboard the vessel, which were included in Russia’s Red Book [of endangered species]," she said.

The 65-year-old captain is suspected of smuggling birds for a money reward. In addition, a person with fake documents of a crew member took care of the birds during the transportation. Police also detained a citizen of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, who caught gyrfalcons and kept them in cage before shipping.

The motor vessel was heading to the Far East’s Khabarovsk Region from where the suspects planned to take the birds abroad. The birds have been placed in the Elizovsky zoo. Ornithologists will later decide on releasing them into the wild.

A criminal case has been opened into smuggling endangered species as part of a group in collusion.