Re: Bird Licencing Review

Subject: Re: Bird Licencing Review
From: "Belinda Johnstone" <>
Date: Fri, 07 Jun 2002 09:01:09 +1000
Dear All

In relation to the proposed NSW bird licencing requirements...When are people going to stop blaming aviculturists for the plight of many native birds by increasing and further regulating with prohibitive laws, the keeping of native birds as pets.

Sure, in the past trapping for the pet industry had an effect on bird populations but as knowledge of captive breeding requirements of many species increase, the more economical it is to breed native birds in captivity than trying to trap them. For instance, Golden Shouldered Parrots are now less than $300/pair...who in their right mind would travel 3000 kilometres to Cape York and spend countless hours trying to trap a pair of parrots when they can walk into a pet shop in Sydney and buy them over the counter? The same goes for Black Cockatoo species with prices starting from as little as $1250 to buy one over the counter at a pet shop! Even the most expensive Black Cockatoos - Glossy Black Cockatoos are available at pet shops in Sydney.

The economic incentive to trap birds for domestic markets has virtually gone...the biggest threat is smuggling for overseas markets. By further regulating domestic laws on bird keeping it's not going to stop people smuggling birds overseas.

The Western Australian Government has a pretty good approach...they've at least reduced the impact of bird trapping for domestic bird keeping markets on two species, the Naretha Blue Bonnet Parrot and the White Tailed Black Cockatoo. By allowing aviculturists to breed these birds in captivity it HAS reduced the incentive to trap birds from dwindling populations. As a requirement of this program, the W.A. Govt. releases captive bred birds back into the wild, further boosting threatened populations.

Aviculture and bird keeping is now at the point where conservation of species through captive breeding is a major objective of many bird breeders. The last thing aviculturists want to do is further reduce wild bird populations and participate in trapping - there is just no reason to when it is extremely easy to breed some of Australia's endangered bird species in captivity.

So before all the government boffins try to restrict the keeping of native birds in captivity they have to ask themselves "What are we trying to achieve?" Birds have been kept for centuries....with tight laws it's only going to send people underground and participate in illegal activities anyway.

Yes, bird trapping for the pet and aviary bird industry is a real threat to the conservation of many bird species that people find desirable to keep. However, trapping and taking birds from the wild is now rare with mostly localised incidents. Broadscale licencing, legislation and law enforcement is not going to effectively control bird trapping why is the NSW Government wasting its time plus tax payers money going down this path anyway. Logic would tell you that it is more efficient and effective trying to police the localised incidents of bird trapping and increasing customs staff at airports than producing more restictive legislation.

Trapping for the pet bird industry on a domestic front, WAS a real threat to bird conservation in the's time for people to let go of the notion that it is a major reason for birds being endangered today (trapping has been illegal for over 16 years, yet species of parrots are still becoming endangered without this threat), concentrate on more achievable conservation strategies for endangered bird species (such as reducing habitat destruction and unsustainable agricultural practices), let go of the emotional stigma that "bird keeping/aviculture = trapping of endangered birds" and realise the potential for the conservation of species through captive breeding.

Belinda Johnston

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