At 05:26 PM 21/03/01 +1000, Laurie & Leanne Knight wrote:
OK, what about the native species that are already kept as pets?
How is the keeping of budgies, weeros [cockatiels], zebra finches etc a
complete disaster for the environment?
First of all, it has been a long time since these species were taken
directly from the wild in any numbers, if at all. They have gone through a
great deal of selective breeding and are, in effect, domesticated, so their
situation has little bearing on what now seems to be under consideration.
Second, there are a number of reasons why keeping species - even such as
these - could create environmental problems, including the accidental
establishment of populations outside their range (even an Australian
species may be an exotic, and cause problems, in another part of the country).
Third, my understanding is that we are not talking about a few species but
wholesale access to a wide number. Certainly here in North America this
has caused problems for natural populations of some reptiles (including a
number of turtles) that have been overcollected or whose habitats have been
degraded in the process of collecting them.
Fourth, there is the question of the individual animals themselves and the
care they are likely to receive - not exactly an ecological consideration
but worth addressing. Of course there are experienced animal keepers out
there, but (at least as far as land vertebrates are concerned) wild animals
simply do not make good pets for the general public, compared with
genuinely domesticated ones, and I expect that if there is general access
to these animals there will be a fair amount of (often unwitting) abuse.
I suspect other readers of this list can come up with further arguments.
How would the breeding of Australian native fish be any worse than the
exotics that are frequently dumped in our waterways? If we are
permitted to catch fish, and to have fish/crayfish/shellfish farms, why
not have them as pets?
It may be no worse, but one of the big problems with intensive fish farming
(such as might be involved here) is the risk of disease or undesirable
mutations spreading back into the wild population, and this is possibly
more likely if the species involved in captivity and in the wild are the
same. This concern has been raised, for example, about farming of native
salmon off the coast of British Columbia here in Canada.
What is wrong with people breeding insects like preying mantises?
[after all, all sorts of insects and arachnids breed in people's
Is this currently illegal in Queensland? I suspect that if they are
hauling in every kid who ever kept a caterpillar in a jar, they must have
quite the enforcement budget....
People already provide nesting boxes for birds and marsupials in their
properties, and feed all sorts of wildlife.
This is simply not the same as keeping them under controlled conditions,
especially if it involves transporting them out of their local range. For
one thing, the attracted animals are still free to add to the gene pool of
their local population.
There are also many breed and release programs for fish. Is there any
reason why there shouldn't be breed and release programs for amphibians,
mammals and reptiles in their natural ranges. Why shouldn't people be
able to stock suitable properties with wildlife rather than domestic
This strikes me as a rather different issue; but if restocking is the issue
it is always easier, for many reasons, to translocate from existing wild
populations than to breed and release. This is particularly true for
animals like birds and mammals which have learned components in their
behaviour that can be lost in captivity, making their ability to survive in
the wild less likely. There are numerous examples of this sort of problem
in the literature.
Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2
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