TWO government agencies are in a clash on the disposition of over 300 smuggled exotic birds seized early this month following threats of avian flu.

The Regional Veterinary Quarantine Office of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) wanted custody and disposal of the seized exotic birds.

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Davao Region would rather have the birds tested first for avian influenza before taking any action.

The National Bureau of Investigation and the DENR recently raided a property in Mahayag Buhangin after receiving reports that smuggled wildlife were kept there.

At present, the birds are being kept at the Davao Crocodile Park in Ma-a, Davao City for safe keeping. Davao Crocodile Park is one of the wildlife rescue facilities registered with DENR in Southern Mindanao.

"The seized wildlife species need to be tested first before a decision to keep or kill them can be handed down," Jim O. Sampulna, Regional Executive Director of DENR Davao Region said.

Sampulna said earlier that it is unlikely for the birds to suffer from some disease since these have been in transit for over a month already, during which any symptoms of sickness should have already manifested.

However, avian flu concerns are under the BAI and not the DENR.

The DENR recently received a letter from the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Animal Industry Davinio Catbagan requesting for the turn-over of the birds to the Regional Veterinary Quarantine Office.

Attached to the request is a letter from Senior State Solicitor Edgardo Sison which states that the seized exotic birds are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the DA-RFU Veterinary Quarantine Service.

Avian flu, according to the World Health Organization, is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs. Avian influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions, crossed the species barrier to infect humans.


Meanwhile, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Inc. has appealed to Davao visitors and residents alike not to visit the eagle center if they came from Crocodile Park to see the smuggled birds within the past three days.

PEF suggests that the eagle center be first visited before the Crocodile Park.

The eagle center and Crocodile Park are top tourist destinations in the city.

PEF executive director Dennis I. Salvador said that this is just a precautionary measure, since the eagle center is home to conservation efforts of the endangered Philippine Eagle.

A spread of the avian flu, even of the less pathogenic types, among their captive birds will spell disaster for the decades-long conservation program.

Avian flu, even the less pathogenic types, easily spread among birds.

Salvador said asking for understanding from the public.

The seized smuggled animals include a couple of Philippine deers, four Palm Cockatoo, 24 pieces of Eclectus, 31 White Cockatoo, 100 Chattering Lory, four Victoria Crown Pigeon, one Yellow Crested Cockatoo, one Brahminy kite, 24 Lory, one Black Capped Lory, 13 Violet necked Lory, 10 Indonesian Mynah, four pigeons, 11 Birds of Paradise, one Monkarel, one Black Lory, three Green Naped Parrot, one Hornbill, three Iguanas, one Monitor Lizard, five Vipers, two Kuskos, and 85 pieces Sugar Glider.

Most of the birds are from Indonesia.

During the height of avian flu spread, Indonesia was among the countries where the flu virus has been confirmed while Mindanao remains free of the disease.