Manual SNATCHED

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After clambering across several small streams using narrow logs as mini-bridges, we came upon the first trap. Gonzalez reached up to a low-hanging tree branch and unhooked the wire holding the wooden contraption. The cage contained a small, pale green bird—either a female painted bunting or a young male whose adult coloring had yet to show. The bird, Gonzalez admitted, was bait to lure another songbird to land on its pitfall door, which would drop the visitor into the trap and spring shut, preventing its escape.

Saying he had another cage not too far from there, Gonzalez took us to it—thankfully this one was easier to reach.

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He also told Taboas that he had five songbirds at his house. When it comes to criminal activity involving songbirds in Florida, Gonzalez and Enamorado are mom and pop hobbyists, capturing or keeping birds for their own use or to trade with friends or local associates. For them, collecting birds was a favorite pastime. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has an entire shed full of confiscated bird cages and traps, underscoring the scale of the illegal trapping business around Miami.

Federal officials, by contrast, concentrate on serial, large-scale songbird offenders, such as the six men charged in southern Florida in April as part of an investigation called Operation Ornery Birds. This is a multiyear, ongoing probe conducted by various agencies, including the U. The six defendants were collectively charged in federal court with catching, selling, smuggling, or bartering more than migratory birds. Ornery Birds is the highest profile example to date of songbird trapping enforcement in the U.

Seized birds included painted buntings, blue grosbeaks, and yellow-faced grassquits. In one Ornery Birds case, defendant Reynaldo Mederos pleaded guilty to selling and offering to sell migratory birds after he told an undercover agent that he captured 50 to 60 painted buntings a year and also sold some protected birds to undercover agents. He was given two years of probation.

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Court documents detail two more cases involving smuggling of migratory birds from Cuba. Federal authorities worry about smuggled birds because unchecked animals could transmit diseases to domestic poultry and wild birds. Alberto Iran Corbo Martinez, a defendant in one case, tried to conceal songbirds in hair curlers taped to his legs beneath baggy pants.

In July , in the federal court in South Florida, Martinez was sentenced to three months in prison and a year of supervised release for smuggling goods into the U. Also that month, defendant Hovary Muniz—who was nabbed for bringing songbirds from Cuba in a fanny pack and then, while on probation for the smuggling, continued selling protected migratory birds—was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison. When wildlife officers confiscate birds, they must figure out what to do with them.

But the wing muscles of birds kept in cages for months or years atrophy, and birds must be rehabilitated before they can be returned to nature.

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They also may have injuries or infections that could compromise their survival in the wild. Law enforcement rehabilitated and eventually released hundreds of specimens from Operation Ornery Birds.

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According to court documents, other birds died or were killed before the six men were caught. One defendant, Juan Carlos Rodriguez, left captured birds entangled in netting, which fell victim to feral dogs and cats.

To capture his quarry, he would set up netting across a field and use a truck to frighten the birds toward it. Read more about his case here and his stated motivation here. Operation Ornery Birds underscores that trappers are growing more sophisticated, learning from each other and making use of technology. Defendant Miguel Loureiro had traps near his house that used solar-powered electronic birdcall broadcasting systems.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison for conspiracy to take migratory birds with intent to sell or barter. For details on the more than birds he admitted to trapping, see this document from the court case. Songbird competitions are a global phenomenon, taking place everywhere from Indonesia to Spain. In the U. This makes them more docile and receptive to learning songs. Females have shorter call notes and are less trainable, he says.

Meanwhile, the recorded songs of other birds are played repeatedly on a loop, with the goal of teaching the birds to mimic long, elaborate—and, their owners hope, award-winning—songs. During competitions, the caged male birds are arranged by species, which triggers their territorial instinct, prompting them to sing. Think that the natives they encounter along the way, in towns and in jungles, will have helped them along in their journey to self-discovery?

You are correct. The stuff of Adam Sandler in his heyday: aggressively absurd, and cheerfully amoral. In the world of Snatched , physical comedy reins, bodily functions are endless sources of humor, and the thing that matters even more than the love is the lol. As Emily and Linda attempt to make their way back to the U. His limp body is played for laughs. Another baddie, whom Emily shoots in the neck with an errant harpoon?

Laughs again. Another guy they meet along the way, a man who is trying to help them escape, meets his fate by way of a deep ravine and a structurally unsound jungle vine. And, yep, laughs once more.

This is not how you welcome a Hollywood legend back to the big screen.

This is a movie that is, given its creators and its stars—and given its impulses toward the edgy and the raunchy—also surprisingly regressive. State Department. The movie also makes broader fun of the xenophobia that could lurk in a script premised on Americans being kidnapped in a developing country. Such jokes are treated, in the movie, as subversive; they read, though, as terribly tired.

Emily and Linda briefly worry that they will be sold into sex slavery.


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