Re: Wildlife Harvesting

Subject: Re: Wildlife Harvesting
From: Harry Clarke <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 16:16:44 +1000
The comments by Dr. Shane Reidal amplify points that I made earlier about
why property right failures mean that commercialising species will not lead
to improved conservation:

>* Most of the pet-bird-purchasing public do not realise that most of the
>more common cockatoos and parrots sold in pet shops are in fact
>* Trapping of fledgling and adult birds inhibits aviculture by keeping
>prices down.

In short unless property rights can be effectively imposed on all wild
birds those which are unpriced will remain overexploited. Wild birds
involve no costs of breeding or feeding etc and hence will remain under
pressure for cost reasons even with a pet shop trade.

>* Trapping does not encourage farmers to plant trees or retain those with
>suitable hollows.

True, because the farmers do not get the benefits from trapped birds which
may be caught by someone else.  If they could farm the birds they might
plant trees (or retaion hollows) but again costs of doing this are
prohibitive given a common property resource out there which is exploitable
at close to zero cost.

>Exportation is a separate issue and should not be prematurely entertained
>by anyone. 

Exporting birds that are currently only sold by the pet shop trade in
Australia just means increasing the size of the market for the birds. It
will intensify inefficiencies that are created by incomplete property
rights. On the other hand if property rights could be better enforced the
costs of exporting in terms of conservation are lower.

I am personally strongly opposed to the caged bird trade if there are
alternative ways of ensuring survival -- and I think there almost always
are.  How to get people to change their idea of pleasure viz - looking at
human-imprinted birds in cages? Appealing to the costs of keeping birds in
cages rather than viewing them for free in the wild (or your local park or
garden) might be an appealing message to red-necks and the unthinking who
find moral arguments unconvincing. 

Harry Clarke.  
Harry Clarke

School of Business
Faculty of Law and Management
Room 433, Donald Whitehead Building
La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3083. Australia.

Phone: 03-9479-1732
Fax: 03-9479-1654

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