Coast Guard officers retrieve the drowned bullfinches which were thrown overboard by the pirogue’s occupants. PICTURE COURTESY T&T Coast Guard

More than 47 birds drowned after they were thrown into the sea by their captors who attempted to evade capture by the Coast Guard in Cedros yesterday morning.

By the time the Coast Guard officers fished out the wicker baskets with the birds, the majority were dead and the others eventually died.

They comprised of 20 Hahn’s macaws, 22 Caiques and five Orange-winged parrots.

A cardboard box with a number of bullfinches was also dumped, but their carcasses floated out to sea before they could be retrieved.

Initial information was that monkeys were also rescued, but the Coast Guard has since stated that no monkeys were discovered.

It is believed that the birds were being smuggled into the country from Venezuela to be sold on the black market.

According to a report, around 6.36 am, the Coast Guard vessel was on patrol when the pirogue was spotted.

The crew members began throwing the wicker baskets and the cardboard box overboard as the Coast Guard vessel pursued and intercepted the pirogue. The officers then fished out the baskets.

The men, who reside in Cedros, and the birds were taken to the Cedros Police Station where the Forestry Division was contacted.

Game warden 11 Richard Ramlogan and his colleague Bishan Madhu went to Cedros where they interviewed the men.

However, it is believed that the men came from Venezuela, and in keeping with COVID-19 protocols would have had to be tested for the virus before they could be detained at the station.

As a result, they were warned of their intended prosecution and released without being charged.

Guardian Media was told that on completion of the paperwork the men will be served with summons to appear before a magistrate to answer the charges.

They are likely to be charged with more than 47 counts of possession of protected animals without a permit and having a second schedule animal in the closed season. Those offences carry a maximum fine $10,000.(SW)