MINSK Jan 25 Veterinarians fearing cases of bird flu have destroyed 275 parrots brought into ex-Soviet Belarus illegally by a smuggler on a bicycle, a newspaper reported on Friday.
Officials this week initially said the birds, crammed into cages and abandoned by a man after he was confronted by border guards, were to be handed to pet shops after health checks.
But a lack of facilities at the border with Ukraine ultimately proved their undoing.
"By law, we could have left the parrots in quarantine for up to three days. But tests can only be conducted in Minsk," said a veterinary service spokesman, quoted by the daily Respublika.
"Transporting them and waiting for the result would have taken a week. We decided to take no risks. They were put to sleep and incinerated."
Two birds were found dead after the cages were opened. The smuggler escaped back across the border.
No cases of bird flu have been reported in Belarus, though two outbreaks have been recorded in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky, Writing by Ron Popeski, Editing by Matthew Jones)