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A quick note before I begin: I wasn't sure whether to put this in parrotlet talk or chitchat, but it's related to parrots and parrotlets so I thought here was fine. If not, can a mod move it? Thank you!

Okay, now down to the nit and gritty. A few days ago, I was browsing facebook when an aviary I follow posted a long post regarding the Endangered Species Act and parrots. After reading this, I went and did some of my own research to back it up, and now I thought I'd share my findings with you guys. (Warning: this is gonna get long.)

In short: the Endangered Species Act was created in the 70's to protect endangered wildlife, both plants and animals, native to the US. However, it has been being used to add non-native species and species that don't migrate into the US to it, and in doing so creates a lot of trouble for pet owners. For some, it's fine, but in 27 states, there's legislation in those states that makes it illegal for pet owners that ALREADY HAD the pets before they were on the list to continue owning them without a permit, or other complicated laws. They're putting endangered, threatened, and vulnerable species on this list as a way to "protect" them, and in doing so interstate trade is prohibited for those species in the US without a special conservation breeding license.

While this law is made to try and protect wildlife, it is directly affecting pet birds, and doing little for those in the wild that are supposed to be helped. While it's true that parrot poaching is still a thing, it has much less pressure put on it when there are legal means to acquire a pet bird. Also, in my search for answers, I came across BirdLife, one of the main authorities on birds in the wild. On their website, I found many articles as well as this graph:



This graph pertains to all Red List Index bird species, not just parrots, but as you can see from the years 1994-2004, the trend of parrot populations decreasing due to pet trade has been decreasing and is almost at a 0 slope now. They did not have an updated graph, but this information seemed accurate still from their other articles.

When digging a little further, I found out that the two groups pushing to put these species on the list, Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians, are apparently known for wanting to end the captive bird trade. I took a gander at the WildEarth Guardians website, and found this article:

Article

As you can see, they say that they want to end the pet trade.

Now, let me say this: I get why they want to end it. Parrots are wild creatures, and it's a bit of a moral grey ground about keeping them as pets. However, the parrots that we keep as pets are, for the vast majority, not caught in the wild. Due to CITES and the WBCA, it's illegal to catch birds from the wild unless it's for conservation purposes, and as you can see, poaching for the pet trade has been decreasing. So while I do understand that we have a population problem with pet birds, and hundreds of thousands of them in shelters, I don't think the solution is to try and end the captive pet trade, but to try and improve it.

And this law is not doing that. This law is also not helping conserve the wild population like it says. Our captive population and the wild population are, for the most part, unrelated in their trends. By limiting breeders, they are just decreasing the number of breeders willing to breed these birds, and decreasing the overall population of the species, and limiting our genetic variety in captivity. So this law is really not doing anything that it is intended to do, especially since the United States has NO jurisdiction in any of the natural habitats of these birds.

So instead of putting our time and energy into trying to find ways to save the habitats of the wild birds, the people who make these laws are trying to obliterate the pet trade under the guise of helping birds.

Here, I'm going to post some of the things from Facebook and my searches.

Note: I got permission to link to this post on FB.
Original Facebook Post

As far as I can tell, this argument has actually been going on for several years. This is an article dated back to 2012 that is still pertinent.
Article

So, you might be wondering how this effects you, since the species targeted are endangered/threatened/vulnerable, and our parrotlets are not. Well, for one, you may own another bird who MAY be. And for another, as stated above, these people don't want to help endangered birds (well they do want that, but that is not their main goal here), they want to obliterate the captive bird trade.

This means that if this legislation can go through unopposed, they're going to keep moving on. Other species are going to be targeted, and they're going to keep finding reasons. It could be a permit thing; now everyone with parrots has to get a permit. No one's doing it? Well now we're just going to make it illegal to own parrots! It could be a precedent thing; we've already banned all of these species, why don't we ban these other ones so that we don't threaten their population? It could be something totally different. I'm not a lawyer or a politician, so I don't know.

What I do know is that our birds are in danger in the long run, and if we don't act now, it's going to get a lot harder.

What can be done!
First of all, I'm still building a case. I'm doing a lot of research and putting together a (more organized than this post) case that I can use. How am I going to use it? I'm not sure yet. I know I can try and write articles. I know I can write letters. I can try and reach out to people.

But I can't do it alone. If you clicked the facebook link or the article link, you can get some ideas. Contact and join the AFA. I've been in contact with Genevieve, their legislative VP. She's very nice and seems concerned about the legislation as well; I'm still waiting to talk to her over the phone, as she is a very busy lawyer, but I want to talk to her for recommendations.

Write letters to your elected representatives. Do research on them, find ones with pets, with birds especially. Find ones that will be sympathetic. Find ones that won't be if you have to, and bombard them with letters.

Write to the Fish and Wildlife department. Let me tell you though, I've written to them. They were not very helpful; they tried to politely rebuke my points, but really just danced around it. When I brought up some links from BirdLife and showed them, as well as asked questions, I was told "Thank you for your concern, bye."

It's not something easy to do, and one person can't do it. We need numbers. I think we can do it though, together. For our birds.

Tl;dr: ESA has been twisted to include animals that have nothing to do with the United States other than the pet trade, in which we have no way to help right here. This was especially targeted at some parrot species. This was done by groups who want to end the captive bird trade. This could endanger our pet birds. Please help do something about it.

Also, as an end note: As I've said above, I am in no way against helping endangered birds! I really want to, I think wild birds should remain wild. I just don't think this is the way to do it! I'm also not against cleaning up the pet trade so there are less unwanted birds! I just, again, do not think this is the way to do it.

Thanks everyone, and I hope the long post doesn't scare you off.
 

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If you breed / own those large parrots, maybe you should need a permit. The life span of those birds is too much imo. ... Spare me the slippery slope argument.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I think somethibg like a permit could be a good idea, but I don't like how they're going about it and how there's no grandfather clause or directions for people that already own. It also makes it hard for rescues to place birds across state lines or send them to another rescue.
 

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+1 on the permit sentiment. For some parrot species in the trade, it is very nearly impossible to provide the resources they require to thrive. In my opinion, such birds should not be on the market. Endangered animals should be straight up illegal to own, unless grandfathered or for rehabilitation purposes. Parrots in general should also not be readily available for purchase in pet shops.

All this said, anything that immediately endangers the lives of the current animals in circulation gets a big, weary side-eye from me. I'm all for getting rid of back yard breeders, and cutting off pet shop stock, though. But I'd beg to house the birds who are already in circulation and let them live out their lives as comfortably as they can in captivity. They cannot be released, or they may as well be slaughtered.

Licensed breeders and rescue centers should be the sole suppliers, and certain species should be phased out of the trade entirely.
These are just my opinions. And of course, I'm speaking in "perfect world" ideals--where the government isn't bloated and incompetent at assessing and issuing permits like these (eventually forgoing scrutiny in favor of money), and probably a whole soup of additional probabilities that would make my rosy ideas sour quickly.
All for removing wild caught stock from the trade, but am completely against removing the trade all together. If we could have done so long ago, we might even have seen a domesticated parrot species in circulation today! But alas.

Despite efforts, parrots in the pet trade are here to stay. They've been a staple for much too long. I would not worry too greatly about it.

Living in Thailand though, I'd love to see some basic animal welfare laws, in general.... We are a long ways behind on this issue. I have seen too, too many african greys and cockatoos living in 'cages' and small dog kennels; spaces not large enough to even house a pair of budgies. Nobody bats an eye.
 
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