15:33 31Jan2006 RTRS-Romanians torture and kill wild birds near Danube

BUCHAREST, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Romanians have been torturing and
killing wild birds stranded by freezing weather close to where the
country’s first bird flu outbreak was detected in October, a wildlife
organisation said on Tuesday.
“Around 15 young men, aged between 20 and 25, were catching the
birds, throwing them in the air, using birds which were still living as
soccer balls, and tearing off their heads,” Razvan Popescu, director of
the Oceanic Club wildlife protection organisation told Reuters.
The birds had been too cold and tired to fly as temperatures
plummeted as low as minus 20 Celsius near the Danube delta.
“There were up to 100 migratory birds, ducks, geese and coots,”
Popescu said.
He said the Oceanic Club had been doing checks on migratory birds as
the lakes and rivers froze when they saw the men playing with the birds.
Veterinarians said samples were taken from some of the dead birds
and tested for bird flu. They came out negative.
Romania has found avian flu in poultry in 26 villages since October,
but has recorded no human cases.
Health Ministry officials said doctors were now monitoring the men
because many of the people who have contracted bird flu worldwide had
had close contact with infected birds.
((ROMANIA-BIRDS; Reporting by Aurora Martiniuc; Writing by Antonia
Oprita; Editing by Alison Williams; Reuters Messaging ))

Environmental police have been contacted; some measures being taken to avert repeats of such woeful lunacy.