Bird photographers stuff styrofoam into live fish to bait eagles

AsiaOne 28 Oct 15;

SINGAPORE - A group of bird photographers in Singapore are raising the ire of people on the Internet after they were caught on video pumping air and stuffing styrofoam bits into a live fish in order to bait eagles.

The incident allegedly took place on Aug 16 this year at a park in Bukit Gombak.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao said it understands that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is investigating the case.

According to Zaobao's report, the photographers were allegedly trying to bait the endangered Grey-headed Fish Eagles, which feed on fish. There are only 12 to 18 such birds left in Singapore, it said.

In the video, a man can be seen injecting air into the swim bladder of a live fish with a syringe. The fish is then handed to another man who stuffed styrofoam bits into the fish through the mouth. A third man then threw the fish into the pond in the park.

The men were trying to keep the live fish struggling near the surface of the water in order to lure the eagles with an "easy meal", according to a National University of Singapore researcher that the newspaper spoke to.

The video was put online by in a report on Monday (Oct 26). The incident was reported first on the 10,000 Birds blog "after a tip-off by one Charlie Gordon, an amateur nature photographer from Singapore", Mothership reported.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has called the photographers' actions cruel, to fish and eagles. The eagles could be harmed after ingesting the styrofoam, it said.

It also said that it has been notified of the case and has referred it to AVA.

A reader on Mothership has apparently identified four of the men in the video, showing screenshots of social media pages belonging to these men. The social media accounts of these men have apparently been deactivated or removed, but the screenshots and photos show that these men, which closely resembles the men in the video, having posted many well-taken photos of birds on social media.

This incident calls to mind a similar case last year - that of photographers tying a young bird to a shrub to get good shots of its parents. A photographer was fined $500 in that case, Zaobao reported.