Re: Wildlife Harvesting

Subject: Re: Wildlife Harvesting
From: Mike Owen <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 23:35:47 +1000
Just to set the record straight on a few of Shane's comments here
- since I own a pet shop specialising in birds, am an
aviculturalist, and relax by watching birds in the wild I have
maybe a different perspective on these issues.

Shane Raidal wrote:
> IMO the important facts on wildlife harvesting are -
> * There is a big public demand for human-imprinted pet birds (mostly
> parrots and cockatoos).

There is a big demand, almost exclusively for parrots and
cockatoos - with very few finches and doves.  The demand is for
hand reared babies, meaning that they have to be aviary raised -
the general public is rapidly turning away from accepting wild
caught birds. 

> * 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 wild-trapped.

Only wild trapped cockatoos (Galahs, Sulphurs, Eastern Long-bill
Corella and Little Corellas) are sold as pet birds - no other
wild caught parrots are sold as pets.  I believe the only other
parrots currently being trapped for commercial sales are Red-caps
and 28's.  Both species are not suitable for pets, and in general
are not wanted by experienced aviculturalists due to the nervous
behaviour in an aviary.  Only those with little experience in
aviculture would be silly enough to buy them.

> * Trapping of fledgling and adult birds inhibits aviculture by keeping
> prices down.

Only fledglings are legally trapped - older birds are not taken. 
The trade in wild caught birds does inhibit aviculture from
breeding those cockatoos that are taken. However the public is
getting sufficiently aware of the desirability of not buying wild
caught birds that they are prepared to pay a premium to get
captive bred birds.  Taking Sulphurs as an example, a wild caught
young (less than 6 months old) Sulphur can be purchased retail in
Queensland for around $80 (they are available from the trappers
for around $30).  Last spring I handraised 2 baby aviary bred
Sulphurs from 2 weeks old, and sold them fully weaned and tested
by Shane for PBFD (via Adrian G., Shane) for $500 each, over 5
times the price of a wild caught baby. At that price I still had
a waiting list of customers who wanted them.  If, as most
aviculturalists wish would happen, the trapping of young birds
was banned, the price in Australia for captive bred Sulphurs and
the other Cockatoos would approach that in North America. 

> * Wild-trapped adult or fledgling parrots and cockatoos make lousy pets
> because they are too old to be imprinted or humanised and due to the
> stresses involved in trapping, transportation and on-selling, succumb to
> many acute and chronic health problems (eg. PBFD, chlamydiosis,
> malnutrition, psychological vices etc).

Wild trapped adult Cockatoos make lousy pets, but young ones can
easily become excellent pets, however I fully agree with the rest
of this statement about stress and the resulting disease
problems. For this reason, and because of my opposition in
general to wild trapping, I refuse to sell in my shop any young
wild caught cockatoos or parrots in general.  If we can't get
aviary raised birds, we don't sell them.

> There are two main issues. One is the welfare of the birds in relation to
> the public demand.  The other is the biological impact and sustainablity of
> a harvesting programme.

The harvesting of birds and its sustainability should not be an
issue, it simply should not occur.  As a general rule, birds born
in the wild should stay in the wild, and birds born in captivity
should stay in captivity.  There may be a case made in special
circumstances for taking a limited number of birds from the wild,
as in the CALM projects in W.A., but wholesale trapping should be
banned.  Aviculture certainly does not need wild caught birds,
with the inhibiting effect it has on successful captive breeding
of these species.   


Mike Owen

Sunshine Coast

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