SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/

International conservation
organization WildAid congratulates the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for capturing smugglers
trying to illegally import 150 Lilac Crowned and Mexican Redhead Amazon
parrots in San Diego earlier this year -- and returning the parrots to the
Mexican wildlife authorities today, the first step in returning them to their
natural southern Mexican habitat.

"The illegal bird trade causes the death of hundreds of thousands of
birds, threatens some with extinction and poses a serious risk of disease to
U.S. agriculture to human health (e.g. Avian Influenza)," says Peter Knights,
Executive Director of WildAid.

According to the World Health Organization, the Avian Influenza H5N1 (Bird
flu) virus is far more lethal than the SARS virus that struck Asia last year
and could unleash a pandemic that could kill as many as 50 million people. It
has already been detected in smuggled birds in Europe and Asia.

"In the whole of the U.S., the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has less than
100 specially trained wildlife inspectors working to stem the flow of illegal
wildlife shipments. It is a credit to the professionalism of the USFWS and the
ICE that these seizures were made. We call upon Congress to put more resources
into the USFWS to stop this illegal wildlife trade and to protect the Nation's
human health and agriculture from diseases such as Avian Influenza," Knights

Founded as a nonprofit wildlife conservation organization in 1999,
WildAid's mission is to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade in endangered
species within our lifetimes. WildAid channels 100% of donations from the
public into award-winning programs designed to protect the wild on land and at
sea, stop the illegal trade, raise awareness and reduce consumer demand.

Web Site: