Photo: Cherie Pittilo

A citizen’s group identified a Dzityá bird trapper as the man who shot a rare toucan that was flying freely in a west Merida neighborhood.

After the senseless shooting in Francisco de Montejo, and later attacks on another toucan in Los Pinos and on a barn owl in Timucuy, a civic group is organizing a network of watch groups to protect birds in Merida.

The Santa María Project invited the citizens of Mérida to form neighborhood watchdog committees to protect parrots, toucans and the like. The Project was formed by bird-lovers, biologists and anthropologists in 2011 to promote conservation.

The attack on the owl was connected to local superstitions passed down for generations. They wet the bird with “holy water” to protect themselves from whatever power they believed the bird possessed, according to the Santa María Project.

But they cheered other young people in the same neighborhood who came to the owl’s rescue and asked for help.

Nothing could be done to punish the killer of the toucan in Francisco de Montejo. The bird trapper from Dzityá noticed public outrage on social media and removed the birds in his possession, thus erasing evidence before he could be tracked down, said Santa María’s organizers.

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