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Wild macaw parrots need to be protected from poachers in Miami-Dade, residents say

PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – Daria Feinstein said she is worried about the “magnificent” macaws in her southeast Miami-Dade County neighborhood. She said it’s nesting season and poachers are out like crazy.

A population of blue and gold macaws frequent Coral Gables, Pinecrest, and Palmetto Bay. Ron Magill, of Zoo Miami, the macaws have been nesting in South Florida for years.

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

Feinstein said she was heartbroken when she first spotted a macaw that was trapped in a poacher’s glue trap. Magill said the birds get stuck and as they are trying to get away they are ripping out feathers.

“This bird was terrorized. You can see all the feathers are pulled out and all the glue is stuck on its chest,” Feinstein said.

“It is like ripping out your hair,” Magill said.

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

State law does not protect the macaws because they are not native species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission prohibits the use, placement, and possession of bird traps without a permit.

Magill said the macaws come from private pet owners who either lost them or released them. Pinecrest residents believe the birds are the descendants of the blue and gold macaws that escaped from Jungle Island when it was located in Pinecrest Gardens.

Curtis Crider, of Jungle Island, released a statement saying he is unable to confirm if the blue and gold macaws in Pinecrest have any relation to the park.

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

For the poachers, the macaws can bring thousands of dollars. Poachers also searching for nests to rip chics out.

“Unfortunately wildlife trade is a thing because there is so much money in exotic wildlife,” Magill said. “I think it is right after drugs and guns as far as the money is concerned.”

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

“How heartless to take a bird away from its mate, from its flock, something that is born in the wild,” Feinstein said. “It’s cruel beyond belief.”

Magill said the macaws are not invasive species because they are not detrimental to other species.

“This is a very sad thing,” Magill said, adding “I don’t think legislators, lawmakers are aware of what is happening with these animals.”

To help protect the birds, authorities turned Palmetto Bay into a bird sanctuary. Magill and Feinstein hope state authorities follow their example.

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

Related links

Jennifer Santino-Finger photographs macaws in Palmetto Bay. (Local 10 News Viewer Share)

Read the Palmetto Bay ordinance


About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."