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Chinese restaurant caught serving protected wild sparrow on the menu

A Chinese restaurant in Beijing is serving protected wild sparrow on its menu – despite a citywide crackdown by forestry police against the illegal hunting and selling of birds, mainland media reports.

The small restaurant in the town of Yongding, in Mengtougou district was found to be offering a 50 yuan (HK$58) plate of fried sparrow as one of the main dishes, the Beijing Morning News reported.

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Forestry police also found seven bags inside a fridge containing the bodies of 140 sparrows, which the restaurant had bought from farmers for a price of one yuan per sparrow, the report said.

The police launched a one-month operation on Sunday to target the illegal hunting and selling of the wild birds, which are now migrating southwards across the mainland as winter approaches.

The police arrested 36 individuals and released more than 1,000 trapped birds across the city.

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At one bird market, in Tongzhou district, in the southeast of the city, the police discovered 71 live wild birds that had been caught. There were nine different types of birds, including protected species such as the Eurasian siskin, the great tit, and the coal tit, the Beijing News reported.

At a village in Daxing district, in southern Beijing, police also discovered a large sticky net, measuring 30 metres long and three metres wide, which was being used to catch wild birds.

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The villager who put up the net claimed that he had been using it simply to protect his corn field, the report said.

Under Chinese law, people who illegally trade in, or are caught carrying protected wild birds, could face a fine of up to 10 times of the value of the birds, in addition to the confiscation of all illegal income.