The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has become concerned about the increasing number of incidents (especially in New York City) involving birds smuggled into the United States from the Caribbean and its basin. Recently, arrests were made when a group of men, mostly of Guyanese descent, brought caged finches to Queens parks and made bets on which one would tweet fifty times first was news to us. The finches are suspected to have been smuggled into the United States are trained to sing faster using recordings to sing faster. Appropriate birds are hard to come by locally and, unwilling to pay quarantine charges, some unscrupulous suppliers are said to hide the birds on passenger flights from Guyana. One was found in a hair curler bag “with about 50 pounds of grass seed.” Earlier this month Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guardsmen chased down two men attempting to flee with 60 illegally obtained finches.54 birds were drowned as the men tried to dispose of the evidence. The worth of their cargo was estimated at $180,000. In Connecticut, meanwhile, the state department of agriculture has found finches engaged in another sort of competition: bird fights. Authorities rounded up 150 fighting finches, some badly injured.
The illegal capture of Caribbean birds for (often) illegal smuggling into the United States has become a source of concern for environmental groups throughout the Caribbean.