Bikie gangs linked to bird trade

BIRDS stolen from a wildlife park in western Sydney could find their way to the Netherlands if they are in the hands of organised crime figures.

Breeding pairs of blue and gold macaws and red-tailed black cockatoos as well as six white-breasted brown doves were stolen from Featherdale Wildlife Park after it closed on December 24.

The macaws were found by police at a home in Auburn five days later but the other eight birds are still missing.

Policing academic from the University of Western Sydney Michael Kennedy said there was a strong connection between organised crime sydicates and the exotic animal trade.

"Flora and fauna is a strange area and there has always been a strong connection with organised crime, particularly parrots," Dr Kennedy said.

"There is other stuff like the big snakes, crocs and big lizards, but when you look at the array of pythons around there is better access to them through Asia.

"Black cockatoos, palm cockatoos and even the regular ones seem to be the most popular targets in Australia.

"I don't think the bikies actually get involved in the theft of animals, but they would always know what was happening in the market.

"My understanding is they get smuggled out and end up in the Netherlands, which seems to be the distribution point."

Featherdale Wildlife Park's marketing manager Kellie Ames was optimistic the missing birds would turn up.

"We're always hopeful but we may look at replacing them if they're not recovered," she said.

Bird aviaries at Central Gardens in Merrylands have also been broken into in the past year, with thousands of dollars in birds stolen or escaped.

In June last year police seized an illegal snake among other items when they raided the homes of alleged Rebels gang members in Willmot, Londonderry, Lethbridge Park, St Marys and Richmond.

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