Venezuelans hunt flamingos, dogs amid mounting hunger crisis

(WSVN) - Amid a growing food crisis in Venezuela, people are apparently killing flamingos, dogs and other animals to stave off hunger.

The Miami Herald reports that, although flamingo hunting is illegal and rare in the country, investigators have discovered at least 20 instances of bird carcasses with their torsos removed. Remains of dogs, cats, donkeys, and even anteaters have been found in garbage bags across Venezuela.

Robert Linares, a waste disposal worker in the northern city of Maracaibo, said he recently found the remains of a dog that had been apparently killed for its flesh, among the many animals he and his colleagues are starting to find more frequently.

“Sometimes we only find the animal’s heads, guts and legs. We used to see this very little in the past, but this practice is now out of control and on the rise,” Linares told the Herald.

The oil-producing country was wealthy prior to the death of socialist leader Hugo Chávez in 2013. But since Nicolás Maduro took power, a drop in global oil prices has devastated Venezuela’s economy and caused inflation to skyrocket, according to Fox News.

The economy’s collapse has made importing food difficult. A study by three universities found that a whopping 87-percent of Venezuelans didn’t have enough money to buy food for their families in 2015. The shortage has become so widespread that it’s taken the nickname of “the Maduro Diet.”

For many, the price of food is simply too high. where just two pounds each of sugar, flour, and meat can cost half a month’s salary.

“We find these killings grotesque, but how can we be critical of someone who hunts a pigeon, a dog, a cat or any animal because he or she is hungry?” Doris Rubio, CEO of the Venezuela-based Animal Protection Association, said to the Herald. “People used to hunt lizards for sport. Now they do it out of necessity.”

Health experts warn that eating animals not raised for consumption could be hazardous to one’s health, due to the possibility of the animals having potentially deadly bacteria and viruses in their systems.

“The pressure that Venezuelans face every day is tremendous because of all the uncertainty,” Sonia Schott, a former correspondent for Venezuelan news network Globovisión, told Fox News. “Nobody knows what will happen the next day.”

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