Yesterday on the front page of Qingdao’s Morning Newspaper (Qingdao Zaobao/青岛早报) was an article about the illegal act of trapping birds with large nets. Some local forest officials along with the journalist set out Wednesday morning to inspect Daoguan Mountain in the Huangdao district for bird nets. They discovered and subsequently destroyed 13 nets (one covering 250 square meters) within just three hours (this was their second raid of the area within the month). They also found small tree shacks used by trappers to stay out of the cold as well as cooking pits to barbecue the birds on the spot.
With its forest-capped mountains and islands, Qingdao is an important stopover for many migratory birds as they make their way south for the winter, but it seems for many it may be their last stop. One eaglet saved by the officials was a Second Level Protected Species in China and this trip they were able to save 13 birds including a northern sparrow hawk, turtledove, and grouse.
Although this type of trapping was made illegal when the Wildlife Conservation Law was passed in 1988, the monetary and scrumptious rewards apparently outweigh the legal deterrents. Trappers are supposed to pay up to a 5000元 fine if caught and some may even serve jail sentences, while many of the birds are sold to restaurants (where a turtle goes for around 20元) or bird markets, where they likely end up with those innocent elders toting bird cages. Any frequenter of the hills and hikes around Qingdao has likely come across these nets as they are quite prolific. Readers in the Huangdao area that spot a net can report it at 8685.0119.
Also this week in the news, China has unveiled a new ambitious wildlife protection plan (coincidence?) that supposedly “will put the country at the forefront of global efforts to reverse habitat and species decline.” Given China’s tainted history with birds, we can all look forward to the day when more birds than plastic bags perch on the trees of Qingdao.