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Finches seized in alleged fighting ring

ASHLAND, Mass., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Firefighters inspecting a property in Ashland, Mass., found two-dozen saffron finches allegedly being used in a bird-fighting ring, authorities said.

The firefighters alerted police who raided the house and seized the birds from filthy cages in a basement littered with feathers, Ashland animal control officer Cheryl Rudolph said.

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Animal fighting rings that once used dogs and roosters have begun using finches because they're easier to hide, Rudolph told The Boston Globe in a story published Monday.

South American saffron finches, about 6 inches tall, are known for being aggressive. To get the birds to fight, a female finch is suspended in a small box above two males placed in one cage, Rudolph said.

"Once they get aroused, they fight until they can't fight anymore," she said. "Sometimes, they sharpen the beak on the males or there's a blade they can attach to the beak."

Several residents of the house were detained for questioning in Saturday's raid but no arrests were made.

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