POLICE have raided zoos and bird centres across the Balearic islands, rescuing 23 birds of prey from illegal animal trafficking.
Eight arrests were made on Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, including the presidents of three falconry associations.
Operation Pihuelas also saw a monkey rescued by Guardia Civil officers.
Two Bonelli’s eagles and a peregrine falcon were among the birds of prey taken into police care. Inspections took place in Esporles, Cala Murada, Palma and Felanitx on Mallorca as police sought to ensure that bird breeding facilities were operating above board.
Most of the animals, including the eagles and monkey, seized came from a small breeding centre in Raiguer.
Inspectors found no documentation for the animals and made arrests for falsifying documents.
Police believe that the owners of the facility took newly hatched birds of prey from the wild, then forged documents to pretend they were born in captivity.
This would allow them to be sold under current laws. At the same location police uncovered a large-scale marihuana plantation, seizing 142 fully grown plants.