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Full text of "Wild Bird Conservation Act : oversight hearing before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans of the Committee on Resources, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, on the implementation of the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992, problems in permitting, and suggestions for improvement, September 28, 1995--Washington, DC"

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WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT 

Y 4. R 31/3: 104-39 ^^^^^^^ 

Uild Bird Conservation Act* Serial... , ^^^^^^ 

HEAEING 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES, 
WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 

FIRST SESSION 
ON 

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WILD BIRD CON- 
SERVATION ACT OF 1992, PROBLEMS IN PERMIT- 
TING, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT 



SEPTEMBER 28, 1995— WASHINGTON, DC 



Serial No. 104-39 



Printed for the use of the ^Committee on Resources 






■i 




DEC 3 1 ,995 



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
2a-880CC WASHINGTON : 1995 

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 

Superintendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402 

ISBN 0-16-052041-X 



^ ^ WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT 

Y 4. R 31/3: 104-39 

Uild Bird Conservation Act, Serial... ___ . .^^^^^ 

HEARING 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES, 
WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 

FIRST SESSION 
ON 

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WILD BIRD CON- 
SERVATION ACT OF 1992, PROBLEMS IN PERMIT- 
TING, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT 



SEPTEMBER 28, 1995— WASHINGTON, DC 



Serial No. 104-39 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources- / 







U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
20-880CC WASHINGTON : 1995 

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 

ISBN 0-16-052041-X 



COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman 



W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana 

JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah 

JIM SAXTON, New Jersey 

ELTON GALLEGLY, California 

JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee 

JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado 

JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California 

WAYNE ALLARD, Colorado 

WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland 

KEN CALVERT, California 

RICHARD W. POMBO, California 

PETER G. TORKILDSEN, Massachusetts 

J.D. HAYWORTH, Arizona 

FRANK A. CREMEANS, Ohio 

BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming 

WES COOLEY, Oregon 

HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho 

LINDA SMITH, Washington 

GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California 

WALTER B. JONES, JR., North CaroUna 

WILLLyvi M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas 

RICHARD (DOC) HASTINGS, Washington 

JACK METCALF, Washington 

JAMES B. LONGLEY, Jr., Maine 

JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona 

JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada 



GEORGE MILLER, California 
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia 
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota 
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan 
PAT WILLL\MS, Montana 
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut 
BILL RICHARDSON, New Mexico 
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon 
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American 

Samoa 
TIM JOHNSON, South Dakota 
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii 
GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts 
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas 
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia 
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey 
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, CaUfomia 
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELO, Puerto 

Rico 
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York 
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam 
SAM FARR, California 



Daniel Val Kish, Chief of Staff 

David Dye, Chief Counsel 

Christine Kennedy, Chief Clerk /Administrator 

John Lawrence, Democratic Staff Director 



SUBCOMMITrEE ON FISHERIES, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman 



DON YOUNG, Alaska 

WAYNE T. GILCHEST, Maryland 

PETER G. TORKILDEN, Massachusetts 

LINDA SMITH, Washington 

WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina 

JACK METCALF, Washington 

JAMES B. LONGLEY, Jr., Maine 



GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts 
GEORGE MILLER, California 
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut 
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas 
SAM FARR, CaUfomia 



Harry Burroughs, Staff Director 

John Rayfield, Professional Staff 

John Lawrence, Democratic Staff Director 



(II) 



CONTENTS 



Page 

Hearing held September 28, 1995 1 

Statement of Members: 

Ewing, Hon. Thomas W., a U.S. Representative from Illinois 3 

Saxton, Hon. Jim, a U.S. Representative from New Jersey, and Chair- 
man, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 1 

Studds, Hon. Gerry E., a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts 2 

Young, Hon. Don, a U.S. Representative from Alaska, and Chairman, 

Committee on Resources 1 

Statement of Witnesses: 

Beissinger, Steven R., Associate Professor of Ecology and Conservation 
Biology, and Curator of Ornithology, School of Forestry and Environ- 
mental Studies, Yale University 20 

Prepared statement 77 

Bond, Frank, General Counsel, North American Falconers Association 24 

Prepared statement 104 

Supplemental testimony 155 

Clubb, Susan L., DVM, Association of Avian Veterinarians 28 

Prepared statement 118 

Cvu-ic, Frank, President, Zoological Birds Import (prepared statement) 138 

Defenders of Wildhfe (prepared statement) 146 

Gable, Roddy, Fish and Wildhfe Service 6 

Herrighty, Larry, Siipervising Wildhfe Biologist, New Jersey Department 

of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish, Game and Wildhfe 14 

Prepared statement 50 

Jones, Marshall, Assistant Director for International Affairs, U.S. Fish 

and Wildlife Service 6 

Prepared statement 40 

Leape, James P., Senior Vice President, World Wildlife Fund 16 

Prepared statement 55 

Lieberman, Dr. Susan, Fish and Wildlife Service 6 

Lilienthal, Gary, Vice President and General Counsel, American Federa- 
tion of Avicmture, Inc 30 

Prepared statement 123 

Meyers, Marshall, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Pet Indus- 
try Joint Advisory Council 26 

Prepared statement 108 

Muschinske, Martin (prepared statement) 153 

Stiegler, Tom, Fish and WildUfe Service 6 

Telecky, Teresa M., Ph.D., Director, Wildhfe Trade Program, The Hu- 
mane Society of the United States 18 

Prepared statement 64 

Additionad material suppUed: 
Ewing, Hon. Thomas W.: 

"Birdbrain Feds Turn Dream into Nightmare" 38 

"Gift May Prove Ticklish for First Lady" 37 

"The Eagle Has Landed" 39 

Fish and Wildlife Service: 

Dreamcatcher Investigation 6 

Processing Time for Permits 10 

Communications submitted: 

Bargon, Peg: Letter of July 20, 1995 36 

Chnton, Hillary Rodman: Letter of May 31, 1994, to Ms. Peg Bargon 35 

Conservation, Scientific, Environmental and Animal Welfare Organiza- 
tions: Letter of October 25, 1995, to Hon. James Saxton 178 

(III) 



IV 

Communications submitted — Continued ^^ 

^to H?n'j^''sirton^" ^^'^' "^A^^^e^^ Letter of October 26, 1995, 

Hv?p H?n ^M ^' °? ^?^i"" 27, 1995, to Congressman Jim sSn T. 171 

Hyde, Hon. Henry J.: Letter of September 27, 1995, to Hon. Jim Saxton 137 

Michels Ann (EIA): Letter of October 27, 1995, to Hon. Jim sSton " ill 

SricS^^i^R^^- ^"^^^^ Conservation Society): LettS of September 
26, 1995, to Representative Jmi Saxton ... 1^0 

Wmnright, Patricia, Ph.D.: Letter of October 26:"l99K'to"ConCTessm 
H. James Saxton with attachments .„"" I8I 



WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT 



THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1995 

House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Fish- 
eries, Wildlife and Oceans, Committee on Re- 
sources 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:07 a.m., in room 
1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton presid- 
ing. 

STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE 
FROM NEW JERSEY, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON 
FISHERIES, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

Mr. Saxton. Good morning. Before we start, we are rather infor- 
mal and I see that all you folks don't have seats. If you would like 
to come up and join us at this lower podium, that would be fine. 
It is better than standing up. 

Today's oversight hearing is on the Wild Bird Conservation Act 
of 1992. Lately the subcommittee has been receiving numerous let- 
ters from around the country regarding this law. While a fair num- 
ber have reflected strong support for the Act as is, many more have 
written in opposition. I am hoping that this hearing today will clar- 
ify the Congressional intent of the Act and its implementation by 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

My home state of New Jersey has a strong wild bird protection 
statute which will be discussed later today. It is my understanding 
that the Federal law is loosely modeled on the New Jersey law and 
laws of other states that have been put in place. 

I am concerned that the Clinton Administration did not ask for 
funding for the Wild Bird Conservation Act and look forward to dis- 
cussing this with the Administration's witnesses. I remain support- 
ive of the Act and hope that this lack of fiscal enthusiasm for the 
law on the Administration's part does not mean overall support is 
lacking. 

I now recognize the ranking member, who is not here. We will 
bypass the ranking member, and I ask unanimous consent that all 
subcommittee members be permitted to include their opening re- 
marks in the record. Mr. Torkildsen was here, but he just left. 

[The statements follow:] 

Statement of Hon. Don Young, a U.S. Representative from Alaska, and 
Chairman, Committee on Resources 

Mr. Chairman, it is appropriate that the Subcommittee is today conducting this 
oversight hearing on the Wilo Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) of 1992. 

(1) 



While there are very few cockatoos, finches, or parakeets living in Alaska, this 
law has generated a tremendous amount of controversy. In fact, this Subcommittee 
has received hundreds of letters from Americans throughout this country who hon- 
estly believe that the U.S. Fish and WildUfe Service is intent on reducing the num- 
ber of breeders, confiscating their pets, and making it virtually impossible to legally 
import a captive-bred exotic bird into the country. 

If that is the case, then that is a wrong and misguided interpretation of the law 
which has as one of its goals the "sustainable utilization of exotic birds to create 
economic value in them and their habitat, which wovild contribute to their conserva- 
tion and promote maintenance of biological diversity." 

I am also concerned that for the second consecutive year the CUnton Administra- 
tion has failed to request any money for the Wild Bird Conservation Act. If this law 
is no longer required or is not priority, then it should be repealed. 

If this law is important, then the Clinton Administration has an obligation to stop 
stealing funds from other fish and wildlife programs, like our refuge system, and 
to pay the administrative and law enforcement costs of the WBCA. 

Finally, it is my hope that our distinguished witnesses will tell us whether they 
feel the Wild Bird Conservation Act has been effective, whether it has been properly 
administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and what changes, if any, are 
needed to P.L. 102-440. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 



Statement of Hon. Gerry E. Studds, a U.S. Representative from 
Massachusetts 

Once upon a time, not so long ago, in lands far away, lots of bad people were tak- 
ing lots and lots of young, exotic birds out of their tropical nests. The birds were 
stuffed inside empty tires, shipped through ports and over routes used by drug 
smugglers, then sold commercially for a premium in the United States. 

Needless to say, many of these birds did not Uve happily ever after — which is why 
the Congress attempted in 1992 to assess the biological impact of the enormous do- 
mestic demand for exotic birds. 

We learned that the United States is far and away the largest market for the pet 
trade and captive breeding, and that this demand was clearly jeopardizing the 
health of their native populations. 

We learned that an enormous number of birds — an estimated 100,000 a year — 
were dying in transport. 

And we learned by heart the fairy tales about Fish and Wildlife personnel, storm- 
ing late at night out of black heUcopters, snatching bird-cages out of the homes of 
devoted and terrified cockatoo owners. 

The moral is not that the 1992 statute passed unanimously in both the House and 
Senate, and was signed into law by President Bush. 

Or even that, as we sought qviiet consensus three years ago, the 1992 bill was 
supported by some of the same groups which today call for its repeal. 

It doesn't even matter that many people have a hard time taking the problems 
of finches and lovebirds seriously. 

The point is the law has worked. Bird smuggling and laundering — operations run 
in many cases by the same people who smuggle illegal drugs, and with the same 
motives — have been severely undermined. 

Weakening this statute now wovild mean budding to the pressures of misinforma- 
tion, and would risk doing unnecessary harm to entire species. 

As we will hear this morning, we may need to address some inequities in the stat- 
ute. However, whUe I reaUze the environmental record of this Congress has not 
stressed subtlety and nuance, I would respectfully suggest that it may be possible 
to shoot at this target with something smaller than an elephant gun. 

Mr, Saxton. Our first witness is the gentleman fi*om Illinois, 
Tom Ewing, We are going to hear Mr. Ewing and then perhaps we 
will have a question or two for him, and then we will go on to the 
next panel. Tom, thank you for being with us this morning. You 
are recognized for your contribution. 



STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS W. EWING, A U.S. 
REPRESENTATIVE FROM ILLINOIS 

Mr. EwiNG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I really appreciate 
the opportunity to speak here today on this controversial issue. 
While I am not here to specifically discuss the Wild Bird Protection 
Act, I am going to discuss the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's en- 
forcement of bird protection laws in general. 

I would like to take this opportunity to recount a series of events 
that have taken place over the last year in my district. In May of 
1994 the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, gave the commencement ad- 
dress at the University of Illinois at Champaign, which is also in 
my district. A woman who was active in arts and crafts at the time 
in nearby Monticello, Illinois, named Peg Bargon was asked bv a 
local Democratic party official if she would make a dream catcher 
for the First Lady. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with a dream catcher, they 
consist of a hoop with beads hanging from the bottom and feathers 
surrounding the hoop. According to Native American lore, the hoop 
was supposed to catch bad dreams and funnel good dreams toward 
the sleeper's head through the beads. These items can be found in 
virtually any craft store in the country. 

Peg Bargon was thrilled with the opportunity to represent Monti- 
cello and all of Central Illinois in preparing a gift for the First 
Lady. The gift was presented to Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton then 
sent Peg Bargon a letter thanking her and explaining what a great 
addition the dream catcher made in the White House and that she 
was equally proud that it represented Native American culture. 

This story was picked up by one of the local newspapers in my 
district and accompanied by a photo of Mrs. Clinton being pre- 
sented the gift. One of the agents in the Springfield, Illinois, office 
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noticed the picture and spe- 
cifically took note of the feathers adorning the dream catcher. An 
elaborate sting operation was set up with an agent posing as some- 
one interested in buying a dream catcher. 

Also, Mrs. Bargon sells dream catchers in a local arts and crafts 
store run by two sisters. These women were also targeted in the 
sting operation. Finally the agent moved in and came to Peg 
B argon's door armed with a search warrant and searched her 
home. They also showed up at the craft store, locked the doors and 
forced the employees to sit there while they were searching the en- 
tire store, a search that lasted several hours. 

These women were arrested and charged with violating various 
bird protection laws. They were not out killing birds for their feath- 
ers. To the contrary, she would find various feathers while walking 
through the woods by her house. They offered a plea bargain. In 
the exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors would recommend the 
most lenient penalty allowed under law. Peg Bargon pleaded guilty 
and is awaiting sentencing. She faces up to six months home con- 
finement and up to $20,000 in fines as a result of this plea. No 
charges have been made against the two store owners. 

This issue has set the Fish and Wildlife Service in Central Illi- 
nois back fifty years. Every newspaper in my district came out 
against the agency. Every piece of mail I have received on this 
issue has been in support of Peg Bargon. At a time when there is 



unprecedented scrutiny of law enforcement, it is exactly this type 
of operation that feeds the discontent of the American people. To 
get an idea of how ridiculous this situation got, the agent with the 
Fish and Wildlife Service was quoted in the press as saying that 
technically the First Lady was in violation of the same laws that 
these ladies were. 

We need a little common sense to be injected into both the stat- 
utes and the enforcement of such statutes. Now I don't think that 
Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for this event. My complaint 
is not about bird protection laws, but the overzealousness of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement. Nobody here wants to see 
birds hunted down for their feathers or otherwise endangered for 
any commercial reason, but to treat a bird feather like heroin or 
enriched uranium is preposterous. If you stop and pick up a blue 
jay feather, and I have in my own yard, that is laying in the yard 
or along the street, you are guilty of a felony because of the strict 
liability of the law. 

The fact that the Fish and Wildlife agent locked these women in- 
side their store while they were conducting the search is uncon- 
scionable. These women would be like your mother, your sister, cer- 
tainly not criminals. The other day at a local picnic a 90-year-old 
lady said to me almost in tears that she had picked up a bird feath- 
er and how frightened she was that she might be arrested. 

Monticello, Illinois is a small town that is as typical of mid- 
America, law-abiding America as any place in the world, and to 
have this kind of sting operation in that community is just unbe- 
lievable. People in small toAvns like Monticello respect the law and 
in return they expect to have respect. We need a more common 
sense approach, because it is the poachers that Eire the most sig- 
nificant threat that we should be concentrating on stopping, not 
the activities of law-abiding citizens. Now a simple warning from 
the agency, I am sure, would have stopped any illegal action in this 
community. 

I would suggest that we focus on changing the strict liability 
statute for simple possession and leave it in place for those people 
who are target — who are poaching. This is a more responsible and 
reasonable approach to this problem. 

Mr. Chairman, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to come here 
and to share this story. It is more than just a story of people in 
my district. Peg Bargon pled guilty because this was destroying her 
life, her marriage, her family and she had to get out of a bad situa- 
tion. She couldn't fight it any longer. We shouldn't treat our people 
like that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

[The attachments to the statement of Hon. Thomas Ewing may 
be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton. I would just say, Mr. Ewing, that members of this 
subcommittee, as well as the full committee, who are responsible 
for monitoring, and from time to time reauthorizing, laws that have 
to do with saving endangered species or other t3^es of laws which 
are so important to the environmental quEility of our country and 
our world hear stories like this from time to time and it always 
makes our job that much more difficult. We have some new folks 
on this panel, particularly on the full committee, who have heard 
stories like this that have been carried out by environmental agen- 



cies of one kind or another or the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and 
it really makes our job very difficult because then we have to jus- 
tify the intent of the law in the face of overreaching on the part 
of agencies. 

And this example is probably the most fallacious example, that 
I have ever heard, of overreaching. And I wish that environmental 
protection agencies and the Division of Fish and Wildlife and other 
state, Federal and local agencies would put themselves in a posi- 
tion of being more responsible all the time, because when some- 
thing like this happens it just makes it extremely difficult for all 
of us who want to do a responsible job. 

From your point of view, how do you think this situation should 
have been handled? 

Mr. EwiNG. Well, I think the agency should use a lot of common 
sense in appl3dng the law. I would have either given a verbal notice 
or a written notice to the people involved that they were in viola- 
tion of the law, that they could be prosecuted for their activities, 
and then I would have watched very closely to see what happened. 
If they didn't cease the activity immediately, then they should be 
prosecuted. I took a few surveys in groups, and I askea how many 
people knew there was even such a law on the books, and no one — 
almost no one — would raise their hand. 

Now that isn't a defense not to know the law, but it is in fact 
a condition that I think responsible law enforcement would take 
into consideration. So I think a simple notice given, at least on the 
first violation for somebody in just possession, and then notify 
them of the law would be the best way to handle it. 

Mr. Saxton. Well, I want to thank you for your testimony and 
for bringing this situation to our attention. The ranking member 
has arrived, and I suspect that perhaps he doesn't have any ques- 
tions at this time, but welcome aboard. Appreciate you being here. 
And thank you very much, Mr. Ewing, for your testimony, unless 
you have something further to add. 

Mr, EwiNG. If I can be of any further service or make any more 
input on this, I would be very happy to do so. Thank you very 
much, 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much. Now let me introduce our 
second panel also comprised of one person, Mr. Marshall Jones, 
who is the Assistant Director of International Affairs for the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Jones, we are anxious to hear your 
testimony, and so you may begin whenever you are ready. 

Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Saxton. Mr. Jones, I understand there is a Sue Lieberman 
with you. If she would like to join you at the table, that is up to 
you. 

Mr. Jones. All right, Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to ask Dr. 
Lieberman. And I also have Mr. Tom Striegler with me and I have 
Mr. Roddy Gable from our scientific authority. 

Mr. Chairman, before I start my statement on the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act, I wanted to take note of the testimony which 
was given by the previous panelist. I was not asked to prepare tes- 
timony on the dream catcher issue and the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act, and so I am not prepared to address those issues today. How- 
ever, Mr. Chairman, if this committee has any questions about the 



situation, we would be more than pleased to provide you with a 
written summsiry of Fish and Wildlife Service's actions which took 
place and answer any questions which you or Mr. Ewing or any 
other member of this committee or the Congress as a whole may 
have on that. We would be happy to do that if that would help fa- 
cilitate your understanding of wnat happened and why. 
[The following was submitted:] 

Dreamcatcher Investigation 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for enforcing the provisions of 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918. Under the MBTA, it is unlawful for 
anyone to kill, capture, collect, possess, buy, trade, sell, ship, import, or export any 
migratory bird, including feathers, parts, nests, or eggs. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not actively investigate mere possession 
cases. We focus our investigative efforts on commercial trade. The Service's inves- 
tigation into the illegal commercialization of migratory birds feathers by Ms. Peg 
Bargon was an investigation into the commercial (for profit) sale of migratory bird 
feathers. Evidence showed that Ms. Bargon was actively collecting and encouraging 
others to collect migratory bird feathers to be used in simulated Native American 
handicrafts and offered for sale. 

In May 1994, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her official capacity as First 
Lady, received a "Dreamcatcher" during an appearance at the University of Illinois. 
The dreamcatcher was made by Peg Bargon and it contained feathers from pro- 
tected migratory birds including bald eagle, barred owl, goshawk, and snowy owl. 
As soon as Mrs. Clinton learned that the dreamcatcher contained feathers from pro- 
tected species, she immediately turned it over to officials of the U.S. Fish and Wild- 
life Service. 

As the popularity of American Indian artifacts has increased, a lucrative market 
has developed for migratory bird and eagle feathers to decorate manv Indian curios 
and art objects. Enforcement officers have no way of determining whether feathers 
used in art work are found on the ground in one's own backyard, or if they came 
from a bird that was killed illegally. The prohibitions under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act are therefore intended to eliminate any commercial market for the birds 
themselves as well as their featiiers and parts. Also, Mrs. Bargon has no affiliation 
with any Native American tribe and would not qualify for possession of feathers on 
this basis. 

Statements recorded by Special Agents during the investigation documented that 
Bargon, Norma Allen and Beverly Fogel, owners of the Sisters Etc. Crafters Mail 
where the dreamcatchers were publicly displayed and sold, knew and discussed the 
fact that possession and sale of migratory bird parts and feathers was illegal. In 
addition, Allen and Fogel admitted to Special Agents that they had been warned 
that the sale and possession of migratory bird parts and feathers was illegal. They 
further stated that they discussed this conversation with Bargon. They still decided 
to continue to commercially deal in the dreamcatchers. 

Brad Purcell, who stored migratory bird parts at his residence for Bargon, stated 
to Special Agents that his attorney had advised him that the possession and sale 
of parts and feathers of migratory birds was illegal. Purcell stated that he discussed 
this information with Bargon and they still continued with the illegal commer- 
cialization of migratory bird feathers. 

During the investigation, Bargon stated to Special Agents that she not only col- 
lected the feathers and whole carcasses of protected migratory birds herself but she 
encouraged hunters, trappers and others to collect and provide her with such bird 
parts. 

STATEMENT OF MARSHALL JONES, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR 
FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE 
SERVICE; ACCOMPANIED BY DR. SUSAN LIEBERMAN, TOM 
STIEGLER, AND RODDY GABLE 

Mr. Chairman, I very much appreciate this opportunity to be 
here today to discuss the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's imple- 
mentation of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. For reasons which I 
will describe, we believe that the reauthorization of this act with- 
out amendments is vitally important to the continued survival of 



some of the world's most beautiful and important wild birds. In 
order to explain why the Wild Bird Act is so important, I would 
like to take a moment to describe the situation prior to the ap- 
proval of this law by Congress and its enactment by President 
Bush in 1992. 

Before then, the United States was the world's largest consumer 
of wild exotic birds, importing somewhere between five and eight 
hundred thousand birds per year in the 1980's. Unfortunately, the 
majority of these birds were taken in the wild in unsustainable 
harvest programs, having a seriously detrimental effect on the spe- 
cies. In addition, for every bird imported experts estimated that up 
to five more died in capture, holding and transport in their native 
countries. And of the birds which finally did make it to the United 
States, Department of Agriculture statistics show that from 1985 
to 1990 over 330,000 birds were dead on arrival in their crates or 
died during the required 30-day quarantine period. 

There is an international treaty, CITES, the Convention on 
International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and 
Flora, which is designed to prevent unsustainable trade and mor- 
tality in transport. But, at that time, CITES was not enough since 
many of the nations involved in the wild bird trade lacked the abil- 
ity or the incentive to collect the required information and institute 
the controls that would be necessary to ensure that the trade was 
not harmful to wild populations. That was the situation prior to 
1992, and the United States was powerless to stop it until the Wild 
Bird Conservation Act was enacted as a way to halt U.S. involve- 
ment in this unsustainable trade. 

Before I describe how the Wild Bird Conservation Act has done 
this, Mr. Chairman, I would like to describe some of the things 
that the Wild Bird Conservation Act does not do. The Wild Bird 
Conservation Act completely exempts all birds native to the United 
States, like cardinals and bald eagles, from any of its provisions. 
It also exempts ten families of birds, including game birds like 
ducks, geese and turkeys as well as ostriches and others. It has no 
effect at all on the commerce within any state or the commerce be- 
tween states, nor does it have any effect on the breeding of birds 
within the United States. The Wild Bird Act has focused on one 
simple thing, regulating the imports of wild birds into the United 
States to make sure that they originate from sustainably estab- 
lished programs and do not suffer harm in transport. 

The Wild Bird Act accomplished this through a phase-in period, 
and after one year a complete prohibition on imports of any bird 
listed under CITES unless these birds met criteria for sustainable 
origin. There are four ways in which the Wild Bird Act does this, 
and I would like to describe very briefly each of those ways and 
what we have done to date to implement that provision. 

The first step was to establish a permit process, since the law 
provides that birds can come in with prior issuance of permits for 
four purposes — personal pets, zoological display, scientific research, 
and cooperative breeding programs. Since we finalized our regula- 
tions for permits in 1993, we have issued over 550 permits, 90 per- 
cent of them for personal pets. And we are now able to process per- 
mit applications for these personal pets in less than two weeks. We 
have also issued permits to 14 zoological institutions to import 



8 

specimens for breeding and public display, and nine cooperative 
breeding programs have been approved with oversight from organi- 
zations ranging from the Peregrine Fund to the American Federa- 
tion of Aviculture. We encourage other breeding programs to apply 
for permits and we are working to make the application process as 
user-friendly and efficient as we can. 

The second step was to establish an approved list of captive-bred 
species which could be imported without need for permits. We have 
now adopted a list which includes 45 species and three color forms. 
It is significant that the final list we adopted in 1994 contained a 
number of additions of parrots and finches which were species rec- 
ommended to us during the public comment period. 

The third step in implementation was to allow for imports of 
birds taken in the wild in foreign countries. The law provides for 
this provided those countries have a sustainable management pro- 
gram. We have published proposed regulations to implement this 
provision. We received over 1500 comments. We have completed 
the analysis of those conmients and we expect to have final regula- 
tions adopted by the end of this year. 

The fourth step was to implement the provisions of the law that 
provide for approval of captive breeding facilities in foreign coun- 
tries. We also have pubUshed a proposed rule. We have received 
over 4000 comments. 

Mr. Saxton. Mr. Jones. 

Mr. Jones. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Saxton. I suspect that you have a couple more minutes. 
Why don't you just go ahead and proceed in spite of the fact that 
five minutes has expired. 

Mr. Jones. All right, I appreciate this, Mr. Chairman. I will try 
to be brief. We have received over 4000 comments. We have com- 
pleted the review of those comments and we have now done our 
first draft, and we expect to be able to adopt final regulations for 
those foreign captive breeding facilities early next year. 

We recognize that many people wish that we had adopted our 
regulations sooner. No one wishes that more than we do. However, 
Mr. Chairman, this was a new and unprecedented law, and as I 
mentioned, we received many thousands of comments. And the one 
thing we did not want to do was make a rush to judgment. We re- 
ceived comments that have caused us to look again at everything 
we have done. We will seriously consider those comments, and that 
is what has taken time. 

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the law asked us to review the possibili- 
ties for implementation of some kind of voluntary marking or label- 
ing program £ind to consider whether we needed to do regulations. 
We have consulted with a number of aviculturists and organiza- 
tions, many of whom are represented here, and we held a public 
meeting on this subject in April of this year. We have now con- 
cluded that there is no need at the present time and we see no 
need in the foreseeable future to impose any labeling program on 
any breeder or business, and we have no intention of pursuing this 
matter further. 

In closing, Mr. Chairman, the Fish and Wildlife Service strongly 
supports the reauthorization of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. 
The United States has shown world leadership in the conservation 



of exotic birds and reauthorization will confirm our commitment to 
continue this leadership. We look forward to working with this 
committee on the reauthorization process. 

Mr. Chairman, I have a written statement which I would ask 
your permission to enter into the record. It also includes a number 
of attachments which describe in more detail our program. And I 
would also be happy to answer any questions which you may have. 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you. Your written statement certainly will be 
included in the record without objection. 

[Statement of Marshall Jones may be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton. I suspect that your characterization of the Act as 
user-friendly may be subject to some questions by some panelists 
who will follow you. Let us suppose that they have already told us 
some stories about how difficult it is to deal with the Act. Would 
you expound on your contention that this program as it exists cur- 
rently is user-friendly? 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman, my intent there was to say that that 
is our goal. 

Mr. Saxton. I am sorry. OK. 

Mr. Jones. I won't say that 

Mr. Saxton. That you obviously have not quite reached. 

Mr. Jones. If you set a high enough goal, it may be something 
that you never reach. I have administered various kinds of permits 
programs for a number of years and I found that one thing is true, 
you always have to keep reinventing your process. It is never per- 
fect when you are dealing with the public. There are several things 
about the Wild Bird Conservation Act, though, that I think that 
have lent themselves to misunderstandings. The law is new and it 
is unprecedented, and I think there were widespread fears that the 
law would have a greater impact on people's individual activities 
than the law actually provided for. I also think when we propose 
rules we try to propose something which reflects our best thoughts 
about how law should be implemented. In the case of some of our 
proposals, we received a lot of comments that have told us that 
there may be improvements that we can make. We are taking 
those comments very seriously and we are working to come up with 
a process that will be as user-friendly as we can make it today. 
And we will keep constantly striving to improve that for the future. 

Mr. Saxton. How long does it take generally today to work 
through the process from the time someone applies for a permit to 
the time that they receive one? 

Mr. Jones. For personal pets, which are the kind of permits that 
have the most immediate impact on someone, we are able to do 
those now in less than two weeks. Our general goal for permits of 
all kinds is 60 to 90 days. We have been able to meet that target 
in some cases and not in others. For example, for the permits for 
cooperative breeding programs, we endeavor to contact tne bird au- 
thorities and the CITES management authorities in countries of or- 
igin. International communications take time, and so we have 
found we are not always able to meet our deadline of 60 to 90 days. 
I do not have an exact average processing time, Mr. Chairman, but 
we could certainly supply that to you for the record. But we are 
working constantly to shorten those times with our goal to have it 
the minimum possible in order to 



10 

[The following was submitted:] 

Processing Time For Permits 

Three months is the average processing time for permits under the Wild Bird 
Concervation Act, excluding permits for pet birds which take less time, as stated 
above. 

Mr. Saxton. Are regulations currently in place for the importa- 
tion of captively bred species? 

Mr. Jones. There are regulations in place which allow the import 
of 45 species without need for permits that are on an approved list. 
Those are species which meet a criterion in the law that there be 
no wild-caught members of that species in trade, so there is no pos- 
sibility of any hann. The regulations for import from individual 
captive breeding facilities in other countries have been proposed. 
Those are the regulations that we have the 4000 comments. We 
have completed the analysis of those comments. We expect to have 
final regulations in place early next year. 

Mr. Saxton. I understand that this process on this set of regula- 
tions that you speak of has been ongoing for three years, is that 
correct? 

Mr. Jones. The law took effect three years ago and we phased 
our implementation of the law, recognizing that there were many 
different parts. The law itself also had a phased period, because 
during the first year imports were allowed under a quota system. 
After that first year, automatic prohibitions took effect. And so we 
have published, Mr. Chairman, regulations first and foremost — our 
first priority was the permits process so that people had a way to 
get permits. The second priority was establishing the lists of spe- 
cies that don't need any permits at all, and we have adopted the 
regulations that establish the list of 45 captive-bred species. We 
have two more pieces to that that need to be finalized on the cap- 
tive breeding facilities to which you just referred, as well as the 
management programs in other countries. And those are the ones 
that we expect to have finalized at the end of this year for the for- 
eign breeding programs and early next year for the captive breed- 
ing facilities. 

Mr. Saxton. Let me turn to a slightly different subject, and then 
we will ask Mr. Studds if he has any questions. I understand that 
the Administration has never requested funding for the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act. I assume that is true, therefore the question is 
how in the world are you funded? 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman, I am not sure of the source of your 
information, but in fiscal year 1994 the Administration did request 
funding to implement the Wild Bird Act. We requested that in two 
ways. We requested $500,000 for permits programs, but we also re- 
quested additional funding. A total of 800,000 additional dollars 
were requested also to implement general permits programs in fis- 
cal year 1994. And there was an additional request of $500,000 for 
law enforcement for wild birds and related activities. We received 
an appropriation, but we did not receive the entire amount which 
we requested, which included funding for a variety of our permits 
programs. 

So, Mr. Chairman, we have some funding for the Wild Bird Act, 
but we do not have all of the funding which was requested in fiscal 



11 

year 1994. In fiscal 1995, the next year, we requested again some 
increases for our permits programs in general. We did not get all 
of what we requested. In fiscal 1996 we requested a small increase, 
$100,000 I believe it was, for our permits programs. We did not re- 
ceive that increase. So, Mr. Chairman, we have some funding for 
wild birds, but we have not received overall for the permits pro- 
gram as much as we had requested. 

Mr. Saxton. I just want to make sure that we are not confused 
on this. I have a memo here from Dr. Lieberman which indicates 
clearly that the request for '95 was zero and that the request for 
'96 was zero. 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman, that was the request that was specifi- 
cally identified under Wild Bird Act. We requested funds in fiscal 
year 1994 under the Wild Bird Act, but we also requested funds 
for our general permits program, because it is a little hard to sepa- 
rate. Some aspects of our permits processing are generic, whether 
it is Wild Bird Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Act 
or other laws that we administer. So Dr. Lieberman's information 
that you have there is certainly correct in terms of what we re- 
quested specifically under this law, but it does not cover general in- 
creases that we requested for permit activities in those fiscal years 
that included a wide variety of laws. 

Mr. Saxton. You are taking funds from another general source, 
is that what you are sa3dng? 

Mr. Jones. Yes, sir. We have a general appropriation. This year 
it is — the line item is International Affairs in the Fish and Wildlife 
Service budget, and in our budget request to Congress we very spe- 
cifically describe all the different activities which are funded out of 
that, and the Wild Bird Act is mentioned there, but it is one of sev- 
eral laws which we administer. 

Mr. Saxton. Do you think — are you adequately funded? I think 
that is the bottom line here. Can you do your job with the funding 
that you are able to find from other sources? Do you need more 
staff? Would you be able to meet your deadlines and your objectives 
more adequately if you were properly funded? 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman, I guess there is — somewhere there is 
a law that — a rule that bureaucrats are sort of trained in one way 
to say there is never enough funding. In this case, Mr. Chairman, 
I would say that we believe we have enough resources to admin- 
ister the law. We did make requests for increases that would have 
helped us administer the law better that we did not get. In this 
time of fiscal constraints, we all recognize that we have to try to 
work as efficiently as we can, and so we are prepared to administer 
the law to the very best of our ability and, we think, to administer 
the law fairly with the resources that we have now. 

Mr. Saxton. I am not — ^Mr. Studds was the chairman and did a 
lot of work on this, and I will turn to him, but we authorized up 
to $5 million a year, I believe, because we were — we assumed that 
there would be tasks to be performed that would require some sig- 
nificant amount of money. And you are performing these tasks. I 
guess on the one hand we should congratulate you, but on the 
other hand if the small amount of money is prohibiting or making 
it too difficult or making it burdensome on the users that we are 
here to regulate, then that could certainly cause us some concern. 



12 

That is the end of my questioning. Mr. Studds, why don't you 
proceed. 

Mr. Studds. It is your problem now, Mr. Chairman. Good luck. 

I think it is very wise of you not to request any funding, other- 
wise you might be abolished. My counsel to you would be to keep 
your head down. If attacked, claim you don't exist. 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Chairman, I am afraid it is 

Mr. Studds. Try to ride it out. 

Mr. Jones. Congressman, I am afraid it is too late. 

Mr. Studds. Don't be ashamed of highfalutin goals. I mean, con- 
sider what these folks say they are going to do, pretty awesome. 

I remember when we worked on this law three years ago. Much 
of the opposition was based, I think, more on fear of the unknown 
than perhaps anjrthing else. That is understandable, an industry 
that has never been regulated faces the prospect for the first time 
of regulation of some kind. Based on the concerns we have heard 
leading up to this hearing, it sounds to me like we may have that 
same problem again. And I am sort of trying to sort out fiction from 
fact. Can you tell us how many permits have actually been denied? 
How many birds have actually been confiscated and how many for- 
eign governments have in fact complained about the crackdown on 
trade in birds? 

Mr, Jones. Congressman, if I could take your questions in re- 
verse order. I know of no foreign governments which have ex- 
pressed any complaints to us about the implementation of the Wild 
Bird Act. We have had some direct dealings with foreign govern- 
ments, and my colleague Dr. Lieberman has just returned, for ex- 
ample, from meetings in Central America where she worked exten- 
sively with colleagues from Latin American countries, Argentina 
and others, about how they could improve their management of 
wild birds and how they could hope to qualify under the law once 
our regulations are final. 

In terms of the number of confiscations. Congressman, with your 
permission I would like to turn to my colleague, Mr. Tom Striegler 
from our division of law enforcement and ask him if he could ad- 
dress that question. 

Mr. Striegler. Mr. Chairman, our computer indicates that we 
have seized a little over 2600 birds since the implementation of the 
Act. Now I am not — I don't have the disposition of all those birds, 
so I don't know that all of them have actually been forfeited to the 
government, but those are the number of seizures indicated by our 
central computer. 

Mr. Jones. And finally. Congressman, you asked about the num- 
ber of permits which we have denied, and let me ask Dr. 
Lieberman if she has the information. 

Dr. Lieberman. Yes, thank you. We have denied two permits for 
scientific research, two for zoological breeding and display and we 
have denied two applications for cooperative breeding programs out 
of a total of 12 applications, 

Mr. Studds. Thank you. You made some reference, Mr, Jones, to 
the fact that there have been suggestions that we eliminate from 
regulation captive-bred critters. I know — ^I recall that one of our 
concerns in 1992 was so-called bird laundering, that is not putting 
them in the washing machine, but we were worried about illegally 



13 

caught wild birds being sold as captive bred. Have you had any 
cases that relate to the problem? 

Mr. Jones. Mr. Congressman, we have had some very substan- 
tial cases that relate to that problem. One recent operation, Oper- 
ation Renegade, involved an international smuggling ring engaged 
in all kinds of activities designed to get fraudulent papers, and 
bring birds into the United States under false circumstances. Now 
that case was not brought under the Wild Bird Conservation Act, 
because the case was initiated before the law was passed, but it 
does emphasize that there are those who would seek to make a 
profit off the illegal acquisition, the unsustainable taking of birds 
from the wild, bringing them into commerce and selling them into 
the United States. It is not surprising since the value of some of 
the birds that were involved in this operation, cockatoos from Aus- 
tralia which were removed from nests and smuggled into the Unit- 
ed States and then masqueraded as captive-bred birds, many of 
those birds were worth many thousand dollars in the retail trade. 
And so, Mr. Congressman, there is this very small minority of 
those who will seek to ignore the law and by fraudulent means 
bring birds in. That does not mean, Mr. Congressman, that we be- 
lieve that the vast majority of those who are affected by the law 
are anjrthing except law-abiding citizens who will seek in every 
way they can to comply with the law, but it does emphasize, Mr. 
Chairman, that there is always the possibility of illegal activities, 
and we strive to take the appropriate action to minimize those, to 
find the people who are doing that and to prosecute them. 

Mr. Studds. So your position generally is that the law as it 
stands is fine, although it could always use improvement in admin- 
istration, and that is your goal? 

Mr. Jones. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Studds. Are you quite sure you want this Congress doing 
an3rthing at all with your statute? 

Mr. Jones. Congressman 

Mr. Studds. Do you want a reauthorization or would you like us 
to pretend momentarily that you don't exist? 

Mr. Jones. I will have to repeat, I think it is too late for us to 
become a stealth program. 

Mr. Studds. You are not expensive enough. 

Mr. Jones. And we do — ^we seek to have the Act reauthorized 
and we hope that it can be reauthorized exactly the way it is writ- 
ten right now. 

Mr. Studds. Let us pray. Thank you very much. 

Mr. Saxton. I see that the new Congress has at least one mem- 
ber's attention. Mr. Jones, thank you very much for your testimony. 
I have no further questions and will excuse you at this point. 
Thank you very much. 

Mr. Jones. All right, thank you, sir. 

Mr. Saxton. Let me introduce the third panel made up of Mr. 
Larry Herrighty, who is the Supervising Wildlife Biologist from the 
Department of Fish and Game from my home state, New Jersey, 
member of the Department of Environmental Protection; also Mr. 
James P. Leape, Senior Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund; 
and Dr. Teresa M. Telecky, the Director of the Wildlife Trade Pro- 
gram for the Humane Society of the U.S.; and Dr. Steve Beissinger 



14 

of the Ornithological Society of North America. Welcome and, Larry 
Herrighty, you may begin. 

Mr. Herrighty. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and mem- 
bers of the committee. I have already been introduced, so I will not 
do that again. 

Mr. Saxton. You might like to, if you don't mind, pull that 
microphone a little closer. 

Mr. Herrighty. OK. 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you. 

STATEMENT OF LARRY HERRIGHTY, SUPERVISING WILDLIFE 
BIOLOGIST, NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRON- 
MENTAL PROTECTION, DIVISION OF FISH, GAME AND WILD- 
LIFE 

Mr. Herrighty. I am here to support the reauthorization of the 
Wild Bird Conservation Act because I believe the Act is necessary 
to conserve wild bird populations that are in jeopardy because of 
commercial trade. The people of New Jersey feel likewise. In 1991 
the New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly passed a wild bird act 
which prohibited the possession of wild-caught birds not already in 
possession. The exemptions are very similar to the Federal act. I 
have had the opportunity to read the public comment in the reg- 
ister as well as some newsletters put out by some organizations, 
and what I find is there is no objection to the primary intent of the 
Act, which is to preserve wild populations of birds, however there 
seems to be some concerns regarding the regulations and some mis- 
information out there. I would like to address those issues because 
we have heard them all in New Jersey and have been able to deal 
with them successfully. 

The first issue is the need to scrutinize documentation in order 
to separate out illegal and legally-possessed birds as well as to 
qualify overseas breeding facilities. Some testimony heard today 
may indicate that certifying or dealing in scrutinizing captive birds 
is out of place, however I would submit that it is a necessary man- 
agement tool without which the intent of the Act cannot be accom- 
plished. Proper documentation of legal birds always helps the legal 
citizen and makes it easier for the purveyor in illegal wildlife to be 
detected. Requiring documentation and tagging has been a widely- 
practiced and long-used tool in the history of wildlife management 
in North America. For example, hunters are required to tag game 
animals, commercial fisherman are now required to log their land- 
ings. And whenever any of this wildlife is processed through the 
system, receipts or documents are always required to be with those 
parts in order to document that they were originally obtained le- 
gally. 

In New Jersey, the Wild Bird Act requires that purchasers of ex- 
otic birds produce a receipt or document which states that the ani- 
mal is domestically bred. In 1995 we processed approximately 4000 
permits for the hobby category for wild birds, and we only have ten 
applicants today that are outstanding as far as citizens not being 
able to produce the documentation that we require by law. We are 
fortunate in that we also control the permits for the breeders and 
the dealers, and so if there is any question we can scrutinize their 
receipts and their sources of origin and we can rely on the fish and 



15 

wildlife agencies in other states if we have any questions. However, 
we do have a problem in that wild birds or birds from other sources 
that have passed through several hands may be coming into New 
Jersey without our ability to scrutinize them effectively. We also 
have a problem in attempting to control the Wild Bird Act, wild 
bird trade on a state level in that our citizens frequently go to 
other states, purchase birds during their vacations and are not 
being provided the required documentation that we ask of them 
when they come back into New Jersey and attempt to register their 
birds. My point here is that trying to do this on a state level is not 
the most effective way to do it and it creates some inconveniences 
for our citizens. 

I believe that it is going to be a lot more difficult to require prop- 
er documentation from foreign sources, but I believe it is a nec- 
essary function of the Wild Bird Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service has indicated that apparently they are not going to require 
banding of domestic birds, and I believe they may or may not re- 
quire banding on wild source birds, however — and I agree that just 
relying on banding alone is not effective in attempting to distin- 
guish between a wild-caught and a captive-bred bird since a young 
hatchling taken out of a tree in some foreign country can easily 
have a closed band slipped over its leg. I will point out, however, 
that in New Jersey we do require leg bands for any bird that is 
now bred in captivity and any bird that is a pre-act bird or comes 
from another state. If it changes hands or is sold, we require that 
it has a butt-end band put on it. And the way we look at that is 
that we can then identify an individual bird and trace it back to 
its documentation. We have had many misconceptions and we get 
lots of phone calls in New Jersey relative to our documentation re- 
quirements. Once explained, the majority of people can easily meet 
our criteria. And in all those conversations that I have had, and 
they reach into the hundreds in the last couple years, no one has 
expressed dissatisfaction with our reason for requiring such docu- 
mentation. 

Like the Federal act, we have an exemption for people to import 
wild birds if they need to breed birds for conservation issues when 
they wish to increase the genetic diversity of the breeding stock. 
We have had one applicant in the last year since our regulations 
went into effect. My staff tells me it was the best application they 
have ever seen and we did grant that permit to import a wild bird 
for conservation breeding purposes. 

The third concern that I hear is that implementation of the Act 
and its subsequent regulations will curtail the captive breeding of 
birds in the United States. In New Jersey we found that not to be 
the case. It makes sense that when you take away the source of 
cheaper wild birds it makes it easier for domestic breeders to make 
a living. Our consumers are educated. They understand the con- 
servation issues involved in the Wild Bird Act and they understand 
the animal welfare issues. They have expressed to me that the last 
thing they want to do is buy a wild bird and become part of the 
trade. The fact that we have reduced competition from wild sources 
has caused our captive breeders in New Jersey to flourish. In 1991 
we had approximately ten bird breeders that had applied for com- 
mercial permits. This year we have approximately 50 people that 



16 

have received permits to breed birds on a commercial level. I would 
point out that we have a lot of hobbyists that do that as well, but 
there seems to be a increased effort since the market is there now. 
So I would argue that we haven't hurt the captive breeder. We 
have helped them out. 

In conclusion, I would like to say that New Jersey believes that 
the Wild Bird Conservation Act is on target and that the regula- 
tions are fair and seem to meet the objectives. We believe that con- 
trol of export and import of wildlife is best left at the Federal level. 
We have had a longstanding and good relationship with the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service and we hope that with the full implemen- 
tation of the Act and the regulations that we can go back and look 
at our regulations and bring them into line so that the consumer 
will have a standard regulatory framework in which to conduct 
business or their hobby. Thank you very much. 

[Statement of Lawrence Herrighty may be found at end of hear- 
ing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much. Mr. Leape. 

STATEMENT OF JAMES P. LEAPE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, 
WORLD WILDLIFE FUND 

Mr. Leape. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Jim Leape, Senior 
Vice President and head of the conservation programs for World 
Wildlife Fund. In the late '70's and early '80's, many of us became 
concerned that the pet trade in wild birds was devastating wild 
populations around the world, especially in the tropics. The exist- 
ing mechanisms of international law, in particular the Convention 
on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, 
provided some protection for birds, but not enough. Those protec- 
tions are too easily eluded by fraudulent permits or defeated simply 
by the lack of capacity in exporting countries to assess and manage 
their own wild populations. 

It is for that reason that in 1988 WWF convened the Cooperative 
Working Group on Bird Trade to try and come up with better pro- 
tections for wild populations. That group brought together most of 
the organizations that are represented here today. In fact. Dr. 
Telecky and I, and Gary Lilienthal, Marshall Meyers and Susan 
Clubb on the next panel, all spent many hours in windowless 
rooms trying to hash out the issues that are reflected in this bill 
and in today's hearing. And I think those discussions can at least 
fairly be said to have laid the groundwork for this Act. 

I think we can all agree that the Wild Bird Conservation Act has 
had an immediate and dramatic impact on the bird trade and a 
positive impact on wild populations. The data show that legal im- 
ports of birds into the U.S. have fallen from nearly half a million 
three years ago to only about 100,000 last year. And so already I 
think we can say the Act has been a success. Fish and Wildlife 
Service has moved promptly to implement some provisions of the 
Act, most importantly, allowing the import of species that are wide- 
ly bred in captivity and not traded from wild populations, a list of 
45 species that are therefore allowed for import, and also exemp- 
tions for imports for zoos, research and cooperative breeding pro- 
grams and birds that are already personal pets. 



17 

Our principal concern is that the Fish and Wildlife Service has 
been slow to issue regulations on two other important provisions of 
the Act, and those are the provisions that would allow imports of 
birds from foreign captive breeding facilities and that would allow 
imports of birds sustainably harvested from the wild. The details 
of those two issues are best sorted out by the Fish and Wildlife 
Service as the agency expert in these issues and charged with sort- 
ing them out, but let me just highlight our basic concerns. 

Principally we are concerned because both of these provisions are 
important to the conservation of birds in the wild. Allowing the im- 
port of birds from legitimate captive breeding operations overseas 
helps to reduce market pressures on wild populations. In short, by 
helping to meet the demand for pet birds, imports from captive 
breeding facilities help reduce the demand for smuggled birds, and 
that is in everybod^s interests. 

Similarly, allowing imports of birds that are sustainably har- 
vested from wild populations also can be part of a long-term con- 
servation strategy for these wild populations. In projects all over 
the world, WWF has found that when wildlife resources bring 
value to local communities, the prospects for conservation are 
brighter — people have an incentive to protect the birds and they 
have an incentive to protect the habitat upon which the birds de- 
pend. 

Both of these exemptions also pose obvious challenges. We need 
to make sure that in allowing imports from foreign captive breed- 
ing facilities we are not establishing fronts for the laundering of 
wild birds. Secondly and more difficult, in allowing the harvest of 
birds from wild populations we need to be sure that those harvests 
are in fact sustainable. As I am sure Dr. Beissinger will talk about 
in more detail, that is no mean feat. 

Our request is simple, and it is that the Fish and Wildlife Serv- 
ice move promptly to issue the final regulations. Those regulations 
need to recognize the hazards of allowing imports under these ex- 
emptions and establish requirements sufficiently rigorous to assure 
that we don't inadvertently open up trade that would be detrimen- 
tal to wild populations. At the same time, the regulations should 
recognize that imports under both of these exemptions can play an 
important role in the conservation of wild populations and the reg- 
ulations should not raise unnecessary barriers to imports under 
those provisions. 

A related part of the Act that has also not received much atten- 
tion is the mandate to the Fish and Wildlife Service to find ways 
to help countries develop and implement better programs to man- 
age their wild bird populations to assure that those populations are 
protected and that any trade is sustainable. In my written testi- 
mony I have suggested that this can be done under an existing 
partnership between the Fish and Wildlife Service and USAID. 

In summary, this Act is already making a big difference. It does 
not need any significant changes. Fish and Wildlife Service does 
need to move forward with implementation, issuing final regula- 
tions, finding a way to help range states improve their manage- 
ment of wild populations and trying to make sure that it gets the 
funds it needs to do that job. Mr. Chairman, we think the Act is 



18 

a success. We ought to leave it untouched and move forward with 
implementation. Thank you. 

[Statement of James P. Leape may be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton, Thank you very much, Mr. Leape. 

Dr. Telecky. 

STATEMENT OF TERESA M. TELECKY, Ph.D., DIRECTOR, WILD- 
LIFE TRADE PROGRAM, THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE 
UNITED STATES 

Dr. Telecky. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I am Teresa 
Telecky, Director of the Wildlife Trade Program for the Humane 
Society of the United States, and I would like to thank you for this 
opportunity to present testimony today on the Wild Bird Conserva- 
tion Act on behalf of my organization and seven other animal pro- 
tection and conservation organizations. 

Mr. Chairman, there is a bird called the Spix's macaw. It is a 
beautiful, long-tailed, bright blue parrot whose natural home is the 
dry woodland of Northeastern Brazil. Spix's macaw is a famous 
bird because of the tragedy that has befallen it. Mr. Chairman, 
there is only one Spix's macaw surviving in the wild. What caused 
the near extinction of Spix's macaw is a price tag that hangs 
around the neck even of this last bird. Of course, Brazil banned the 
collection of this bird long ago, but collectors were willing to buy 
illegal birds and smugglers were willing to deliver the goods for a 
price. The last wild bird is being guarded from trappers who are 
relentless in their attempts to capture it. 

For my organization and many others, what happened to Spix's 
macaw provides a dramatic example of the damage that has been 
caused by the trade in wild birds. It also provides an example of 
the lengths to which bird collectors will go in order to possess rare 
and valuable birds. And that is why on the third anniversary of the 
passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act we implore Congress to 
reauthorize the Act without any changes that would make it easier 
for wild birds to be imported. 

Mr. Chairman, the Wild Bird Conservation Act, although not 
even yet fully implemented, has already demonstrated success in 
the conservation of wild birds. The Act has reduced the number of 
birds imported to the U.S. from roughly half a million per year be- 
fore the passage of the Act to only about 80,000 in 1994. The Act 
has allowed the American market for pet birds to shift to captive- 
bred birds, which make more appropriate pets than wild-caught 
birds anyway. In fact, gross retail sales of pet birds and pet bird 
products have almost doubled since passage of the Act. Reports 
from field biologists studying wild parrots indicate that the Act has 
provided much needed relief from trapping pressure on these spe- 
cies. And finally, since passage of the Act, at least an estimated 3 
million birds have been spared the cruel death commonly encoun- 
tered in the wild bird trade in which only 20 percent of birds col- 
lected from the wild make it to market. 

Mr. Chairman, the Wild Bird Conservation Act has accomplished 
what Congress intended and it deserves to be reauthorized without 
any changes, changes that might diminish its success. The Wild 
Bird Conservation Act contains carefully crafted language that in 
fact required over six years of negotiation among organizations 



19 

with diverse interests, including conservation organizations, animal 
protection organizations, the pet industry, aviculture and zoos. The 
result is a reasonable law that allows some exceptions without 
flinging the doors open to abuse. The Act allows the importation of 
birds for aviculture. It allows the importation of captive-bred exotic 
birds from foreign qualifying facilities. It allows the importation of 
45 species of birds that are so commonly bred in captivity that no 
one even bothers to collect them from the wild anymore. It even al- 
lows the importation of wild-caught birds when it can be shown not 
to cause harm to a wild population or result in unacceptable mor- 
talities. Finally, it does not regulate the trade in birds born in this 
country, unless of course they are of a species that is commonly 
smuggled, in which case the birds may be required to be marked, 
but this is reasonable. And even though we did not get everything 
we wanted out of this negotiating process, we have not reneged on 
our agreement to give full support to the Wild Bird Conservation 
Act. 

In contrast, we know that others have expressed concern about 
sections of the Wild Bird Conservation Act, and especially they are 
frustrated with the length of time that it has taken to promulgate 
regulations. One complaint we have heard is that it is too difficult 
for foreign breeders to become qualified under the Act, but, Mr. 
Chairman, the regulations implementing this portion of the Act 
have not even been promulgated, so they haven't even been tested. 
The process of qualification of foreign bird breeders must be strin- 
gent enough to ensure that birds imported from foreign facilities 
are truly bred in captivity or the purpose of the Wild Bird Con- 
servation Act will be defeated. Rare birds will be collected and im- 
ported under the guise of being captive-bred. As demonstrated by 
several recent undercover operations conducted by the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, it is very easy to pass off a wild bird as one 
that was bred in captivity. 

Another complaint we have heard is that it is too difficult for 
breeders to obtain permission to import birds for captive breeding, 
but in fact only 12 people have even applied to import birds under 
the cooperative breeding program exemption and only two of these 
applications have been denied. In the past decade an estimated 7 
million birds were imported to this country. We believe that there 
already are enough birds in this country to supply most breeders 
with the birds they need. The Wild Bird Conservation Act encour- 
ages breeders to evolve from their former pattern of reaching for 
wild birds every time they need new breeding stock. Instead it en- 
courages breeders to cooperate with one another to fully utilize the 
vast gene pool which exists in this country. 

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I want to return to the story of the 
Spix's macaw. Just a month ago a captive Spix's macaw was re- 
leased into the wild near that last wild bird. It is hoped that the 
two will mate, produce offspring and begin to replenish this very 
rare species. Similarly, it is our hope that the Wild Bird Conserva- 
tion Act will continue to protect wild birds today so that there will 
not be stories like the Spix's macaw tomorrow. Only reauthoriza- 
tion of the Act without changes will produce that result. Thank 
you, Mr. Chairman. 



20 

[Statement of Teresa M. Telecky may be found at end of hear- 
ing.] 
Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much, Mr. Beissinger. 

STATEMENT OF STEVEN R. BEISSINGER, ASSOCIATE PROFES- 
SOR OF ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION BIOLOGY AND CURA- 
TOR OF ORNITHOLOGY, SCHOOL OF FORESTRY AND ENVI- 
RONMENTAL STUDIES, YALE UNIVERSITY 

Dr. Beissinger, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommit- 
tee, thank you for the opportunity to address this hearing, I am a 
professor in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 
and a Curator of Ornithology at the Peabody Museum. I would like 
to testify today on behalf of eight organizations of professional orni- 
thologists who study birds. My testimony consists of five consensus 
recommendations for you about the Act. 

First, reauthorize the Exotic Bird Conservation Act. Until the 
passage of the Act, wild birds were being decimated. You have 
heard the stories. You have heard how the trade was ineffectively 
regulated by national or international regulations that were sup- 
posed to ensure that trapping for trade was sustainable. It did not. 
It caused quite a large number of species declines and was largely 
ineffective. 

Captive breeding was the major source of individuals in the trade 
for only a handful of species. Most other birds in the trade were 
coming from the wild. The numbers of wild-caught birds were inde- 
fensible. The sale had to be stopped before more species were driv- 
en to the situation of the Spix's macaw. The Act accomplished this 
goal and the need for it remains today. Populations of most species 
have been severely depleted by decades of overharvesting and re- 
quire several generations or probably ten to 20 years for them to 
begin to recover. 

The second point I would like to make is that captive populations 
do not conserve endangered species in the wild. Captive breeding 
to recover endangered species requires birds to be introduced to the 
wild at the earliest possible opportunity. Disease risks must be 
minimized by placing birds in single-species facilities, idesdly with- 
in their native range to minimize the exposure to and introduction 
of exotic diseases to the wild. Special care must be taken to slow 
domestification of birds before they become unlikely to successfully 
survive when reintroduced. All captive breeding programs must 
also be fully integrated with field efforts to protect habitats and 
correct the factors that originally caused the populations to decline. 

Avicultural collections do not meet these requirements. Birds are 
usually kept in close proximity to many other species, so they are 
high disease risks to reintroduce. Furthermore, aviculturists select 
birds to become domesticated. Promotion of captive breeding as 
conservation by aviculturists is sometimes a rationalization for 
keeping exotic birds in captivity in private collections. This excuse 
was used to justify illegal activities by convicted cockatoo smug- 
glers last summer. 

My third recommendation is that captive breeders do not need 
continued access to new stocks. Only limited genetic diversity is re- 
quired for avicultural collections not used for reintroduction to the 
wild. Fifty to 75 birds per species will capture the genetic diversity 



21 

for this purpose. All species of commercial importance are already 
represented in sufficient numbers in captivity to constitute a viable 
gene pool under active cooperative management. Species with 
fewer individuals obviously are not of commercial importance. If 
aviculturists would manage their gene pools by moving birds 
among private collections, they could take advantage of the great 
genetic diversity that is already present. 

My fourth recommendation is not to amend the Act to exclude 
any bird bred in captivity or overemphasize sustainable harvesting. 
Captive breeding has the allure of potentially reducing pressures 
on wild populations, but amending the Act to allow importation of 
any bird bred in captivity will increase the number of wild birds 
harvested. Because the demand right now far exceeds the capacity 
of breeders to produce exotic birds, there is a great impetus to har- 
vest birds from the wild and sneak them into the trade, as you 
have heard, as captive-bred individuals. Presently no marking sys- 
tem, including closed-ring banding systems, can reliably detect 
laundering of illegal birds. It requires a well-documented pedigree 
and tissue samples for DNA analysis. Serious funding would be 
needed to enforce such legislation. The simplest and most cost-ef- 
fective way to regulate captive breeding facilities outside the Unit- 
ed States is the present list of species that are bred almost entirely 
in captivity and the licensing of breeding facilities on an individual 
basis. 

Sustainable harvesting could also provide conservation and trade 
benefits, but also requires a degree of control that is difficult and 
expensive to achieve. Important biological information to determine 
sustainable levels of harvest have not been gathered for even a sin- 
gle species in the trade, and no ranching projects with wild free- 
flying birds have ever been done. Without strong controls currently 
in the Act, attempts to sustain harvesting would likely cause more 
conservation problems than they solve. 

Lastly, we would like to suggest that you do something. Do 
amend the Act to include all bird families. Ten bird families were 
exempt from this Act as a result of special interest group lobbying. 
Excluding these so-called game birds and potentially other families 
such as raptors from this legislation reinforces a market for them 
and gives no impetus to develop captive management programs. 
Only a handful of these species are covered by the Endangered 
Species Act or CITES. Many of the rest are thought to be declining 
in the wild. Not only are these families threatened by habitat de- 
struction, but they are often hunted, or in the case of raptors, per- 
secuted throughout their range. It is simply inappropriate to ex- 
clude bird families from a conservation act. Instead, let the Fish 
and Wildlife Service regulate which species should be traded. 
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

[Statement of Steven R. Beissinger may be found at end of hear- 
ing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much for your testimony. You all 
gave very good articulate testimony and I appreciate that very 
much. 

Mr. Herrighty, you testified that you believe that as a represent- 
ative of the State of New Jersey, which has its own wild bird pro- 



22 

gram which exempts New Jersey, I beHeve, from the provisions of 
this Act, is that correct? 

Mr. Herrighty. No, that is not correct. Ours is stricter in that 
we don't have as many exemptions on birds on the so-called captive 
exempt list, but we are not exempt by any Federal regulations. 

Mr. Saxton. It is fair to say that the Federal law does not super- 
sede the state law, is it not? 

Mr. Herrighty. Federal law does supersede the state law. States 
may be stricter, but not more liberal. 

Mr. Saxton. So in your case the state law applies? 

Mr. Herrighty. Yes. 

Mr. Saxton. How much — and is your law more stringent than 
the Federal law? I should say our law of New Jersey. 

Mr. Herrighty. Yes. Our law is more stringent in that the Wild 
Bird Conservation Act will — as it is currently written it has a larg- 
er number, 45 birds that we heard, that are now allowed to be im- 
ported and that are considered totally captive-bred. That is all that 
is being traded. In New Jersey there are only five species of birds 
that fall under that category. Also we require banding as our act 
mandates that we come up with a methodology to distinguish wild- 
caught or pre-act birds that are wild caught from any birds now 
coming into the state or bred in captivity. So we have banding or 
microchipping that is a requirement for any birds now bred in cap- 
tivity in New Jersey. 

Mr. Saxton. Can you tell me what your budget is in New Jersey? 

Mr. Herrighty. My budget for my exotic section, which deals 
with all non-game and exotic species as far as permit requirements 
is about $130,000. I have one zoologist, one technician and several 
clerks. We increased the permit fee for bird hobbyists from ten to 
$20 in order to raise additional funds to help administer our wild 
bird act regulations. We have taken some heat for that and we may 
adjust it as we see what our real costs are. Our problem is that 
we are under a hiring freeze in state government. I have the money 
to hire additional people, but I cannot do that right now. 

Mr. Saxton. So we in New Jersey spend on your program, on 
the— in the neighborhood of $130,000? 

Mr. Herrighty. That is for the administration of all non-game 
and exotic permits, which include wild birds, parrots and others, 
yes. 

Mr. Saxton. It is kind of interesting this is the feds. We feds 
spend, apparently, about $100,000 to administer the Act for the 
whole country and New Jersey spends $130,000 for our little state. 
It is kind of an interesting contrast. I am not quite sure how we 
feds are so efficient. 

Let me ask Jim Leape and Dr. Telecky and Dr. Beissinger, in 
1972 when the Wild Bird Conservation Act was — 92 when the Wild 
Bird Conservation Act was passed, it had the active support of the 
environmental community, including the Pet Industry Joint Advi- 
sory Council and the American Federation of Aviculturists. Today 
these two groups, the two groups that I just mentioned, are seeking 
changes or repeal of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. Would you re- 
spond to why you think that is and are there some changes that 
we need to make in order to make this bill more efficient? And if 
so, what do you think they are? 



23 

Mr. Leape. I will go first. I haven't heard their testimony yet, so 
I don't know specifically what concerns they have. I think there is 
some grounds for frustration. The implementation of part of the 
Act has been slow, in particular the two sets of regulations that I 
mentioned in my testimony. We do think that the regulations al- 
ready in place, specifically those for permits, that allow permits or 
authorized permits for cooperative breeding programs are legiti- 
mate regulations. I believe that the requirements imposed — the 
two-page permit application and the information asked of each co- 
operative breeding program — are a reasonable set of requirements. 
I think there has been frustration that sometimes the processing 
of permits takes too long. My understanding is that on average it 
has taken something like six months. Now although some of that 
may be slowness in the applicant providing necessary information, 
clearly some of it also is slowness in processing permits. And as 
you suggest, $100,000 for the entire country is not a lot to admin- 
ister a permit program and I would be surprised if we had any dis- 
sent on this panel or the next that the government ought to have 
more resources to make this program work, both to make it work 
efficiently for those who need permits and also for it to be effective 
for those concerned about conservation of wild populations. 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you. Dr. Telecky. 

Dr. Telecky. Yes. Well, like Mr. Leape I haven't seen AFA and 
PIJAC's testimony on this issue, but as I testified today, I know of 
at least two areas that they are concerned with. One is the foreign 
qualifying facilities, but I think in that case it is a little bit of the 
fear of the unknown because those regulations have not been final- 
ized yet and so it reallv hasn't been put to a test. The other issue 
that I am aware of is the permit application procedure for coopera- 
tive breeding programs, which I also addressed. There is a permit 
procedure out there and operating right now, and as I testified, 
there have been 12 applications and only two of those have been 
denied. And I believe the Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to 
streamline that process a little bit more. I also would agree with 
Mr. Leape in that I would assume that additional funding provided 
for the purposes of implementing the Wild Bird Conservation Act 
could only, you know, help in terms of getting the regulations out 
there a little bit faster and getting those permits processed a little 
bit more quickly. Thank you. 

Mr. Saxton. If it is taking six months to get a permit, at least 
in many cases, it would seem to me that this Act would be working 
very well in terms of keeping the number of birds that are im- 
ported into the country at a low number and certainly that was not 
the intent of this panel when the bill was passed. Would you agree 
with that statement? 

Dr. Telecky. I would certainly agree with that. 

Mr. Saxton. Dr. Beissinger. 

Dr. Beissinger. Yes, Mr. Chairman. This Act, and the changes 
requested in the Act, are because the Act results in a change in 
business. The business expectations now are different. No longer 
can aviculture and the pet industry have complete, uncontrolled ac- 
cess to wild bird populations. That results in some changes that 
need to be made within the avicultural community to adjust, and 
those changes take time. Aviculturists need to organize themselves 



24 

in a different manner than they have worked before, and that 
change means that they need to coordinate among themselves the 
exchange of their birds and develop stud books and manage their 
genetic resources and manage their birds, not just consider them 
as personal pets, not just only reach to the wild each time they 
would like to have new blood stock. This kind of organization will 
take a little time to put in place, but the avicultural community 
stands to gain much by it if they would do that. So I do think that 
this is the other issue that we have to deal with here, changes that 
we are asking of this community that result from no longer relying 
on the wild populations. 

Mr. Saxton. Well, thank you very much. I have no further ques- 
tions at this time. The members of the subcommittee may have 
some additional questions, particularly those who are not able to 
be with us this morning, and so the record will remain open. We 
may ask you to respond to further questions in writing. Thank you 
very much. 

Now let me introduce our fourth and final panel: Mr. Frank 
Bond, who is the General Counsel of the North American Falconers 
Association; Mr. Marshall Meyers of the Pet Industry Joint Coun- 
cil; Dr. Susan Clubb of the Association of Avian Veterinarians; and 
Gary Lilienthal, General Counsel to the American Federation of 
Aviculture. Once again, each of you will have five minutes for your 
oral testimony. Your written testimony will appear in the record as 
you submit it. And we will begin with Mr. Frank Bond. You may 
proceed, sir. 

STATEMENT OF FRANK BOND, GENERAL COUNSEL, NORTH 
AMERICAN FALCONERS ASSOCIATION 

Mr. Bond. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the com- 
mittee. I have submitted a written statement which I would like 
to have printed as part of the record. 

I am Frank Bond. I serve as General Counsel for the North 
American Falconers Association and have had the pleasure of being 
at a committee table like this many times before. Unfortunately 
when Mr. Leape had suggested that they put together the working 
group to deal with this issue, we were not invited to that 
windowless room to collaborate with them. And frankly, it wasn't 
an oversight on their part, because the first iteration of the Act in 
1992 really didn't deal with the issues of captive propagation with 
respect to raptors and the import/export problems dealing with 
Falconiformes, the family Falconiformes including raptors, until 
the final bill came out when we found we got swept in as well. And 
so for that reason I apologize for coming to the table three years 
later, but want to express our problems and our opinion. 

Falconiformes, birds of prey, can only be used for several pur- 
poses: education, conservation programs, captive propagation, fal- 
conry, zoological programs, and rehabilitation purposes. Probably 
as a group of birds it is the most highly regulated group of birds 
in North America and indeed in the world. They are listed — ^vir- 
tually every single member of the family of Falconiformes is listed 
under Appendix I or Appendix II of CITES. For somebody to come 
in and import a bird or export a bird he has to comply with 50 
C.F.R., the Code of Federal Regulations, at 21.28, 21.29, 22.24, 



25 

21.30. He has to seek an MBTA import or export permit, and he 
has to comply with the additional requirements imposed by CITES. 
And then for those few birds, not only the peregrine falcon, for any 
import or export then he has to also seek an additional ESA per- 
mit. 

When the ranking minority member had said it was a first-time 
regulated group of people and they are getting used to the Act, we 
have been used to it for a long time. If Mr. Striegler of law enforce- 
ment were sitting here, he would recall a meeting that I had with 
Mr. Doggett, Chief of Law Enforcement with the Fish and Wildlife 
Service, who said isn't there any way that we can decrease the 
number of regulations dealing with raptors. And frankly, we have 
resisted. We have a marking system. We have a requirement of ap- 
prenticeship. We have very stringent requirements for facilities and 
examinations. The same things go for people who would seek to 
captively breed raptors in captive propagation programs as well. 

So we come to point out to this committee that despite all of 
those purposes, there is one purpose that we are not allowed to 
keep raptors for, which is the basic intent of this Act; and, that is 
for pet purposes. You cannot keep a raptor in America for pet pur- 
poses, so the basic intent of the Act really doesn't adequately cover 
any problems with raptors that might not be covered with all of the 
other acts. Consequently, notwithstanding the recommendation of 
the gentleman from Yale, we really believe that the Falconiformes 
family ought to be exempted from the Act so that the WBCA more 
appropriately can be focused on the real problems that you dis- 
cussed with the previous panels and more broadly with the remain- 
der of this panel. 

What WBCA means is that for people who are dealing with 
raptors, it means just one more permit. That is, we are up to five 
permits instead of just four now without the WBCA. I will tell you, 
though, that with respect to the fact that we have had to deal with 
it for the past couple of years until this reauthorization hearing, of 
the captive propagation programs which have been approved, prob- 
ably the majority have been for captive propagation programs deal- 
ing with raptors. And that is frankly because the Service has dealt 
with us for a long time, knows who we are and knows the stand- 
ards that we have to live with. So I am sure it has been a lot easier 
for the Service to deal with us than it has for some of the other 
bird groups. 

But it brings us to a broader problem, particularly with the Serv- 
ice and the permitting activities. We routinely have permit re- 
quests that go six to nine months without a decision. We are very — 
feel very lucky any time it is under 120 days, and what — ^when peo- 
ple talk about the system and feel that it maybe doesn't need much 
more than a little tweaking, a little work here and there, I find 
that the permit system is not broken. It doesn't need a little tweak- 
ing. The permit system at the Fish and Wildlife Service is in com- 
plete meltdown. It needs to be rebuilt, and I think this committee 
and other committees in Congress that deal with it really need to 
deal with that part of assisting the Service to integrate a program 
so that we have single permitting system for the various purposes 
and to assist them in their capacity to issue permits timely within 
the standards that they are being guided by. And I do hope that 



26 

when you look at this you can look at those particular problems, 
but as you are looking at this particular Act that you really closely 
define what it is that you intend to do with the Act, the families 
of birds that you intend to really attempt to regulate and to con- 
trol. 

Then the last thing, Mr. Chairman, is I think the lady from the 
Humane Society makes a point. We have to treat these birds hu- 
manely. Falconiformes can only be shipped one per container. 
Those standards are set by the International Air Transport Asso- 
ciation under Container Requirement Number 20. We simply aren't 
facing those kinds of problems that the pet bird industry is facing. 
Consequently, we think that probably four permits plus these 
standards are enough, and that probably we are adding to the bur- 
den the Service now carries by having one more permit applying 
to Falconiformes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

[Statement of Frank M. Bond may be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you, Mr. Bond. Mr. Meyers. 

STATEMENT OF MARSHALL MEYERS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESI- 
DENT, GENERAL COUNSEL, PET INDUSTRY JOINT ADVISORY 
COUNCIL 

Mr. Meyers. Mr. Chairman, my name is Marshall Meyers. I am 
appearing today as Executive Vice President and General Counsel 
for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. I appreciate the oppor- 
tunity to testify today on implementation or lack thereof of this 
Act. PIJAC has been involved with this issue since its genesis. 
When I hear today about the fear of the unknown, both from the 
Humane Society of the United States and from Mr. Studds, I guess 
I am just an old-time country boy here in this town who has be- 
come very fearful of the unknown in dealing with Federal regu- 
lators. I don't really believe they are there to help us. 

Passage of the Wild Bird Act was a result of significant com- 
promises from a number of varied interest groups. Unfortunately, 
some of the reservations that we raised during that period have be- 
come a reality. Three years after enactment the pet industry, avi- 
culture and others supportive of sustainable use programs anx- 
iously await implementation of those portions of the regulations 
that would facilitate this activity and also that of facilitating the 
approval of foreign captive breeding facilities. 

While it may have been the intent of Congress that the Act 
would accomplish these laudable goals, we question if that is the 
Service's real intent. The proposed regulations governing approval 
of foreign captive breeding facilities and foreign sustainable use 
conservation export programs are so restrictive, burdensome and 
full of disincentives, not incentives, for engaging in these activities 
as contemplated by Congress. Regulations need to be implemented 
quickly for this Act rather than languishing in the recesses of the 
agency. 

The impact of the Act on the commercial pet bird industry has 
been and continues to be significant. It has destroyed the import 
industry and adversely affected the supply of birds both captive- 
bred and wild-caught, prior to enactment approximately 30 to 40 
active importers, today six to seven. 



27 

Somewhat amused to hear the statistics about the growth in the 
industry when the state of the industry report, which is published 
in the spring of each year, shows the growth in the bird industry, 
including birds and bird products, was 3.8 percent. The overall in- 
dustry had substantial growth, but not in the bird products and the 
number of birds. And also when I heard the comments from New 
Jersey that they have issued 4000 permits. National surveys indi- 
cate, depending which survey, between 10 or 15 percent of U.S. 
households own birds. I suspect then we have an incredible number 
of cockatiels, budgies and common — ^those five species in New Jer- 
sey and that everybody in New Jersey is licensed. I don't believe 
it. I think it is highly improbable, that the New Jersey law is really 
not effective. 

But despite these implementation problems, be it at the state or 
the Federal level, we remain hopeful that this Act can become an 
effective conservation tool. Its future success will require several 
amendments and far greater Congressional oversight than has ex- 
isted in the past three years. If this Act is meeting its objectives, 
amendments, not repeal — and we have never advocated repeal, but 
we have been classified or characterized as enemies of this Act — 
are required. And possibly they are required because the Service 
feels that it is constrained by some of the language and the criteria 
and therefore that they have no alternative but to put in some of 
these overly demanding requirements. 

Therefore, we believe that Section 113 to carry out the original 
intent regarding CITES Appendix III birds that are not covered 
by — should not be covered by — ^this Act unless they are coming 
from the country that lists them. The Appendix III issue is com- 
plex. Appendix III listed species are not subject to the CITES re- 
view and scientific scrutiny of the other species. In fact, a country 
can put them on and hold the rest of the world hostage. 

Think, sir, if the State of California decided to put in some type 
of restriction prohibiting the export of a particular species out of 
the State of California, if the same standard of the act is applied 
to foreign nations applied to the United States, New Jersey, Texas, 
Montana could not export those animals raised in their state, and 
your individual state would have had no say in how that came 
about. So if we are going to start infringing on sovereign rights, 
then maybe we should start infringing on states rights. I think this 
is an issue that should be looked at very carefully. 

Number two, reauthorize the Act with recommendations for ade- 
quate funding to properly implement. Number three, direct the 
Secretary to fully implement the Act by expeditiously promulgating 
user-friendly, reasonable and workable regulations with respect to 
the two remaining areas that are still in question and to look at 
Sections 106 and 107, particular with respect to importing captive- 
bred birds to make sure they can come in in a more freely way 
than proposed. And periodically convene Congressional oversight 
hearings at least annually until the committee is satisfied that the 
Act is being properly implemented. 

I have included in my written testimony some detailed comments 
regarding the rules governing the approval process of the two out- 
standing areas. The proposed criteria are detailed. They are stag- 
gering and may impose regulations and data collection require- 



28 

merits even our government couldn't do and may have to try to do 
to allow the export of box turtles under Appendix II. Most impor- 
tantly, U.S. Government would impose these requirements and pos- 
sibly effect the sovereignty of some of these foreign governments. 
No foreign captive breeder, no foreign government, no U.S. im- 
porter will make the substantial investments in light of the high 
probability of denial of Fish and Wildlife Service by the risk of run- 
ning afoul of overly aggressive, overly zealous Fish and Wildlife en- 
forcement. 

It should be emphasized we are not asking and have never asked 
for repeal, and I say that again. But I also don't want the commit- 
tee to be misled by departmental protestations regarding criticism 
of proposed regulations and claims that such criticism is pre- 
mature. No matter what excuses or cloak the Department wraps 
around its actions by characterizing the regulations as tentative, 
conceptual or ideas published for public comment, the 
underpinnings clearly indicate a different departmental philosophy. 

Conclusion is simple. We must carefully scrutinize the events of 
the past three years, including the language of the regulations, and 
then look at what the Act has failed to do. And the bottom line is 
also simple, that adopting unobtainable criteria is nothing more 
than a smoke screen. It is an effective ban, not a conservation tool. 
We are willing to work with this committee and with the Depart- 
ment to try to get these regulations out and to make this an effec- 
tive conservation act, but we must have regulations to be met, not 
impossibility of compliance. Thank you. 

[Statement of Marshall Meyers may be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much. Dr. Clubb. 

STATEMENT OF SUSAN L. CLUBB, DVM, ASSOCIATION OF 
AVIAN VETERINARIANS 

Dr. Clubb. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I 
appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today. I am Susan 
Clubb and I represent the Association of Avian Veterinarians, a 
professional association of some 3000 veterinarians. The AAV has 
a strong commitment to conservation of wild and captive birds. Un- 
like any other veterinary organization, we donate one percent of 
our net income to support conservation projects every year. We 
support the WBCA and we feel that the Act should be reauthor- 
ized, but with amendments. Some recommendations for amend- 
ments are contained in my written testimony, and we support the 
amendments proposed by AFA. 

My written testimony is before you, but I would like to speak to 
you today from the heart. As a point of introduction, I worked as 
a veterinarian for a large importation company for 11 years. I know 
firsthand the problems of the trade and I personally worked toward 
resolution of these problems and reasonable legislation to solve 
them. I was a member of the cooperative working group on bird 
trade representing AAV. I continue to work and live as an avian 
veterinarian and an aviculturist. 

Mr. Chairman, an exemption is not an exemption if it is unat- 
tainable. Being unattainable may be real or it may be conceptual. 
We are here today because many people affected by this Act feel 
that some sections of the Act and the regulations promulgated by 



29 

the Service are burdensome, restrictive and unattainable. As' a de- 
partment in the largest government or business in the world, the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should act as a service to those af- 
fected. This is not the perception that is prevalent in the public sec- 
tor. Obviously the Service has a law enforcement responsibility, 
which is vital to the control of trade, but encouragement of legal, 
legitimate and non-detrimental trade is the American way of doing 
business. 

It is with some trepidation that I make these comments because 
I have in the past and will continue to seek permits from the Serv- 
ice. Past experiences as an applicant have often been frustrating at 
best. I hope as a result of my comments today that the future will 
not be more frustrating. 

Laws are not written for the lawless. They are guideposts by 
which law-abiding citizens conduct their personal lives and busi- 
nesses. No amount of regulation will prevent the determined crimi- 
nal from smuggling. Extensive regulation, however, does suppress 
honest enterprise. The best law cannot work if the regulatory 
agents entrusted with enforcement are tardy, insensitive or over- 
zealous. Would this description fit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
handling of the WBCA? Is it appropriate that final rules for two 
of the most important exemptions allowed under the Act have not 
been published almost three years after enactment? These are 
questions for this committee. I would like to challenge the Service 
or this committee to examine this issue, perhaps by a poll of per- 
sons making previous applications, WBCA applications, CITES or 
otherwise. Ask them about their experiences with the Service. Per- 
haps my perception is not widespread, but I think it is. 

To summarize my written testimony, I would like to address 
some specific areas of concern. Regarding Section 115, marking and 
record keeping is vital to successful avicultural management, but 
government involvement or mandated marking is inappropriate. 
Many veterinarians routinely remove bands from birds due to the 
risk of injury. The Service has stated that they don't intend to use 
this section. It is contentious and has no conservation benefit. 
USDA already marks legal psittacine (parrot) imports. This section 
should be removed from the Act. 

Regarding Section 107, subsection (b)(6), all birds exported from 
an approved facility must be bred at that facility. This section was 
viewed as potentially problematic in the legislative history. It 
makes economically viable exports from small entities virtually im- 
possible. This section should be removed. 

And finally, as expressed earlier, we are concerned about the 
handling of the WBCA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We 
support the WBCA and reauthorization of the Act. We also genu- 
inely hope that the Service will be fair and reasonable and will 
process applications promptly and with sensitivity and respect for 
the public. 

Of the 673 WBCA permit applications received by the Service as 
of the end of August, 620 or 92 percent were for pet birds of U.S. 
citizens returning to the U.S. What about other applicants and the 
other exemptions? There have been only 53 applications for all the 
other exemptions. 34 of those applications or 64 percent were ap- 
proved. Are people afraid to apply? 



20-880 95-2 



30 

Mr. Chairman, we ask you to evaluate this situation and instruct 
the Service to work in a way which is consistent with the intent 
of Congress and with the best interest of our citizens. Mr. Chair- 
man, I appreciate having the opportunity to testify before you 
today and will be available for any questions. Thank you, 

[Statement of Dr. Susan L. Clubb may be found at end of hear- 
ing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much. Gary, you may proceed. 

STATEMENT OF GARY LILIENTHAL, VICE PRESIDENT AND 
GENERAL COUNSEL, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVI- 
CULTURE, INC. 

Mr. LiLlENTHAL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Distinguished chair 
and members of the subcommittee, my name is Gary Lilienthal and 
I am the Vice President and General Counsel and an aviculturist 
testifying on behalf of the American Federation of Aviculture and 
the 300 avicultural organizations, exotic bird breeders and busi- 
nesses which have eagerly signed onto Aviculture's written testi- 
mony. 

I would like to take a moment to recognize the dozens of 
aviculturists from across the United States who have taken time 
and their personal funds to be here today. We aviculturists are the 
people who keep, breed and raise exotic, non-native birds. We are 
dedicated to the conservation of exotic birds both in the wild and 
captivity. The mission of AFA is to preserve avian species on a 
worldwide basis. AFA is the largest exotic bird humane and edu- 
cational organization in the United States. 

In 1992 AFA had serious misgivings about certain elements of 
the WBCA. Yet we wholeheartedly supported its mandate for con- 
servation and wise use of exotic birds. Aviculture's support was ul- 
timately based on one important cornerstone of the WBCA, pro- 
motion of captive breeding and the free importation of captive-bred 
birds into the United States. Congress agreed and they named the 
WBCA the "Breeders Bill." We are here today because the WBCA 
has yet to fulfill its promise. We do not now seek repeal of the 
WBCA. In spite of what you may have been told, we want to see 
it work. 

In order for it to do so, the WBCA regulations which have effec- 
tively caused a ban on the trade in exotic birds, even in captive- 
bred birds, must be redirected to the conservation and captive 
breeding principles that the WBCA intended. Mr. Chairman, Con- 
gress intended that the WBCA be the Wild Bird Conservation Act. 
Somewhere along the way to the Act being implemented through 
its regulations it became a different WBCA. It became the Way to 
Best Control Aviculture Act. 

We believe that the following specific changes must be made in 
order for the WBCA to be effective. And I will enumerate them. 
They are specifically set out in our written testimony. First, au- 
thorized funds must be appropriated and used for sustainable use 
studies in range countries to promote sustainable trade where ap- 
propriate. Second, the actual scope of the smuggling problem and 
the enforcement activities of the Fish and Wildlife Service's deter- 
ring of legitimate aviculture should be investigated. Representative 
Ewing spoke eloquently for our fears too. Third, Section 105 should 



31 

be amended to specify that the WBCA's coverage of exotic birds 
hsted on Appendix III of CITES should only relate to birds found 
in the countries of listing, as was intended by both the WBCA and 
CITES. Fourth, the permit process under the regulations in Section 
112(2) relating to the importation of personal pet birds should be 
simplified. And we are delighted to hear about Fish and Wildlife's 
progress in this. Fifth, Section 112(4) should be amended to elimi- 
nate the regulatory requirement of tracking and reporting of U.S. 
captive-bred offspring of imported birds. Sixth, regulations under 
Section 107, which will promote captive breeding of exotic birds 
and ensure the free importation of captive-bred birds into the Unit- 
ed States, must be promptly adopted based upon the six-point ap- 
proval process proposed by AFA in its written testimony. Seventh, 
Section 106(b)(1) must be amended to provide that if a species is 
regularly bred in captivity and wild-caught members of that species 
are not in legal trade, it shall be placed on the captive-bred species 
list as intended by Congress. Current regulations improperly dis- 
qualify species regularly bred in captivity from being on the list if 
any members of that species are in illegal trade. This policy pro- 
motes smuggling. I would point out to the Chair that 45 species are 
approved. It is my information that approximately 8600 species 
exist. Eighth, sections 114(c) and 115 on marking should be elimi- 
nated. Finally, a new section must be added to provide that not- 
withstanding any law, regulation or policy to the contrary, exotic 
birds bred from parent birds in the United States shall be consid- 
ered legal regardless of a legality of their ancestral stock. 

AFA and aviculture sincerely hope that the various communities 
concerned with the trade in exotic birds will understand that these 
recommendations are constructive and will implement the intent of 
Congress for sustainable trade and the promotion of captive breed- 
ing and importation of captive-bred exotic birds into the United 
States. If the humane, conservation, animal rights, anti-trade and 
government regulatory communities cannot wholeheartedly support 
the eventual sustainable trade in and wise use of wild-caught ex- 
otic birds pursuant to appropriate management programs and the 
free trade and importation of captive-bred exotic birds into the 
United States, then AFA would consider requesting the repeal of 
the Wild Bird Conservation Act as it would then be clear that the 
support by these groups for this law is really based upon using the 
WBCA as a ban on trade in exotic birds, captive bred or otherwise. 
This would destroy aviculture and it will not save the birds. 

Thank you for this opportunity to present our views, and I would 
be happy to answer any questions. 

[Statement of Gary Lilienthal may be found at end of hearing.] 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you very much. We will certainly take note 
of your specific recommendations on various sections of the Act and 
try to evaluate those. I would like to try to find a bottom line, and 
all of you seem to indicate that you think the Act is a good idea, 
that there are maybe some changes that ought to be made to it. 
I didn't hear anyone say that it shouldn't exist at all, and so I 
guess it is our job to try and determine what kinds of changes we 
need to make either to the law or administratively to make it work 
so that you don't have to wait six to nine months to obtain a per- 
mit. 



32 

Now when I look at one of the aspects of this, and I brought this 
up when Mr. Jones was testifying, and that is that we estimated 
as a committee that this could cost as much as $5 million a year 
to do an adequate job in carrjdng out the provisions of the Act. Mr. 
Jones testified, I think I heard correctly, and some of you folks are 
still here, you can correct me if I am wrong, that we spend about 
$100,000 a year canying out the provisions of the Act. Now it is 
impossible, it seems to me, to do any kind of an adequate job of 
either promulgating regulations in an adequate fashion or in carry- 
ing out the permitting process with $100,000, which pays a person 
or two to do the job for the entire country. Do you see that as a 
primary problem that we have here? I am not a — I am a fairly con- 
servative guy when it comes to spending money, but if we are going 
to have a law that says that certain things are provided in the law 
that have to be done, somebody has to request the money to do it. 
Is that a fair assessment? Do I gather that correctly? Anybody 
want to comment? 

Mr, Meyers. Mr. Chairman, I think it is absolutely a fair ques- 
tion, but it goes to a broader problem. I think you probably better 
look at the whole permitting system, not out of criticism, but out — 
in terms of providing some assistance. I believe that maybe there 
was $100,000 dedicated specifically to the WBCA, but I believe it 
is fair to characterize Mr, Jones' testimony that they had approxi- 
mately $500,000 to run the whole program, I think this is just 

Mr. Saxton, I think he said they had — they requested and re- 
ceived $500,000 in fiscal year '94, 

Mr. Meyers. Oh. 

Mr. Saxton. They requested zero in fiscal year '95 and zero in 
fiscal year '96, and transferred some money from some other ac- 
counts. And if it is more than $100,000 that took place in transfer, 
please somebody in the first — that is what it is? 

Mr. Meyers. It seems to me from what I heard from the testi- 
mony that they just wrapped it in, but I am not going to answer 
for him. 

Mr. Saxton. You know, we — just to further make this point, the 
African Elephant Conservation Act we appropriated last year $1.2 
million, which I assume the Administration requested part of The 
Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act we appropriated $400,000 and 
the Wild Bird Conservation Act that we are talking about today is 
a goose egg, and that didn't work, it seems to me. Doctor? 

Dr. Clubb. If I may make one comment in that regard. In Janu- 
ary of this year I became very frustrated because of an excessive 
delay in issuance by the Service of an Appendix I captive-bred ex- 
port permit, CITES permit, and I submitted a FOIA (Freedom of 
Information Act) request to the Service for similar exports of Ap- 
pendix I captive-bred psittacines in the previous year, in 1994. 
Seven months later I got the reply on the FOIA request. It was a 
one-page reply and the cover letter stated that due to difficulties 
in dealing with their computer system it took them that long to 
supply this information, I think that our government should have 
top quality computer equipment. If they simply have the tools to 
work with, then perhaps they can work efficiently. If it takes them 
seven months to generate a one-letter reply to a FOIA request, 
then obviously their technology is not adequate in today's time. 



33 

Mr. LiLiE>rrHAL. Mr. Chair, I would like to respond, as well. I see 
this much more globally, perhaps, in that I think that the lack of 
funding is a breach of faith with the groups, including three of the 
people sitting on this panel, that sat for five years and gave their 
time to help this law come into effect, as well as a breach of faith 
with the congressmen who are on this committee. It is a breach of 
faith with the countries that were told that if they could put to- 
gether sustainable use programs, they would again be able to trade 
with the U.S. if that trade were properly managed. Without the 
funding which was supposed to be used in part to help establish 
sustainable use programs — I don't think I heard here, and I would 
like to be corrected if I am wrong — that anybody said that the birds 
which are not coming into the United States anymore aren't going 
elsewhere. So we haven't solved the problem. We have merely redi- 
rected it, perhaps. Without the money to fund sustainable use 
trade and management programs in foreign countries, we aren't 
saving birds. We are merely covering up the problem. 

There are 18 million pet birds in the United States. And we talk 
about $1.2 million for African Elephants and some millions of dol- 
lars for tigers, and while I am not against that, I would think that 
zero for exotic birds is a little bit, just slightly out of proportion. 

Mr. Saxton. I am for conservation of elephants and rhinos and 
lions and tigers and endangered species and all the others. I can't 
for the life of me understand why birds aren't just as important. 
Mr. Meyers. 

Mr, Meyers. Mr. Chairman, also during the deliberations there 
was some discussion about how other parts of the world deal with 
this issue. The European Union does work very closely with under- 
developed countries in helping them coming up with quotas that 
are allowed into Europe. They put money out into the field, 
through NORAD, which is a Norwegian assistance fund. They put 
money where their mouth is. This Act put money up, but they 
didn't put it where our mouth is. And I think that is the bottom 
line, and I think if we could get some money appropriated, do some 
foreign assistance programs, come up with some model programs 
that could meet the final regulations, I think that is what is des- 
perately needed. 

We are cautious, however, and when I made my comments about 
the amendments, the Department may well feel that they are 
somewhat constrained because of the scientifically based language 
that was written into the statute and undefined criteria. The 
money to run a study to meet the criteria that are proposed, $5 
million will not be enough. And I think that is the thing that Con- 
gress has to address. 

Mr. Saxton. Let me just ask a question for anybody to respond 
to who would like to. Have any regulations issued by the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service had the effect of making it virtually impossible 
to legally import captive-bred exotic birds into the United States? 

Mr. LiLlENTHAL. It is impossible to legally import captive-bred 
exotic birds into the United States from qualifying facilities be- 
cause there are no regulations. 

Mr. Saxton. Thank you. Does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv- 
ice — do you believe that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes 



34 

that bird breeders have a role to play in increasing both the num- 
ber and size of the gene pool for exotic birds? 

Mr. LiLiENTHAL. I will take that one again as one of the two 
aviculturists on the panel. I think perhaps these questions are 
maybe for us to answer. We believe that the need for increased 
gene pools is a must. Dr. Beissinger mentions 50 to 75 birds. I have 
been told by our director of conservation, Dr. Benny Gallaway, who 
has a Ph.D. in wildlife and fisheries services, that the current norm 
is 1000 birds for a viable gene pool. We are finding now that in 
some of the species that we are not able to import anymore that 
are shorter-lived, such as the finches, are experiencing a drop-off 
in the diversity in their gene pool, and we are concerned about in- 
breeding. 

We are also concerned because as we are unable to increase gene 
pools, that acts as an enticement to unscrupulous people for illegal 
activity — smuggling. Aviculturists abhor smuggling. Smuggled 
birds are dangerous to avicultural collections. They bring in dis- 
ease. AFA is the only organization in the United States of which 
I am aware which has produced a bilingual, multi-colored anti- 
smuggling poster and we donated it to the Fish and Wildlife Serv- 
ice. I actually presented a copy of this poster to this committee 
when it held the WBCA hearings. We have a copy of it on display 
here today. We are very concerned about the dilution of gene pools 
and what is going to happen if we cannot at least bring in captive- 
bred birds, never mind wild-caught birds under sustainable trade. 
And the gene pool issue is a major issue for us. 

Dr. Clubb. There are many species in the United States for 
which we have developed avicultural techniques and have devel- 
oped very large gene pools and very stable populations. There are 
other species for which we have not developed these techniques yet 
or perhaps they were imported in fair numbers many years ago 
when birds were imported for the pet trade didn't fall into the 
hands of responsible aviculturists in time to establish these birds. 

As we become more sophisticated, we think we should get an op- 
portunity to work with these species again. And we would prefer 
to bring in captive-bred birds if they are available and if the regu- 
lations will allow us to bring in captive-bred birds. If not, we feel 
that we can be responsible and bring in low numbers for captive 
breeding from the wild without damaging wild populations unless 
it is a bird like the Spix's macaw. Obviously we don't intend to tiy 
to import rare and highly endangered birds for aviculture unless it 
is absolutely necessary. 

Mr. Saxton. ok, well, thank you very much for your testimony. 
We appreciate it very much. This subcommittee does take its work 
very seriously and we will certainly try to work with the Service 
to try to provide a better situation within which you all work and 
literally live. Thank you very much. 

[Whereupon, at 11:57 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned; and 
the following was submitted for the record:] 



35 

THE WHITE HOUSE 

May 31. 1994 



Ms. Peg Barton 
Rural Route ^ 
Monticello, Illinois 61856 

Dear Peg: 

Thank you for your lettsx. I appreciate your 
ihou^tfulncss in scad'm^ mc che drea.'n catcher. 

I love the beautiful legend of the dream catcher, and 
I'm pleased to have this symbol of nanve Arnerican wi:sdom, 
lavz^ and creativity in the White House to commemorate ray 
delightful visit to east central UlLnois. 

With best wishes, I am 

Sincerely yours, 



Hillary Rddham Clinton 



36 



}-^), ZZ. •.995 

7c V.l-.oci I: M«y Concern: 

AJ vou iic sac, oaiioiul press has eottcn the story »i>0"' <^^ "gift* Elmer PurccU tad I gave to the FLfst Liuiy, 
C:t Eiibscaucal laveebgttioa tod impCiuIuiK prosecution by the U. S. Fish tnd WUdlife, Divoeion of Liw 
Lr.'.^ncz^^l ixui the U. S. Justice DeputsicnL Mra. Clinton'* dnauaiatcher (which wjj; aaalyrcd by the 
isxltiisosj&a lafititution) coatained 11 fcslhen picked up from the ground by my son ind I it the Columbia 
Fv;vert>aaii Zoo, Columbi*. SO, 3 jivea la mo by • hunter, «nd 2 I plucked from t ro»d-kilI owi. 

Ir; the cuic of IlliaoLs, ALL bird* wish the ezceptioii of the comjcQon bouM epurow, pi jeon uid North Anvtnam 
slirlic^ ire "protected" by cither sUto or federal Uwt. Migratory bird* (blue jay, owl, cardinal, crows, Canadian 
goose) an federally protected. What ioca 'prolocted* meaa? 

Th: Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1963 ctates la part '...it shall be tinltwfu] at any time, by any meani or in any 
a:--—, to ...tails (collect), possess, offer foraale, aell. transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be 
Cirric<l or received any migralory bird, any part, any ftesJ or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or 
wti:hir DO! maaufacturtd , which coniiei, or ia composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part. ncC or 
e^;; ticreof...' 

The Bald and Gold Eagle ProCecdan Act itates that it ii unlawful io:*...latowingly, or with wanton disregard for 
the C0Q5c<;u£aces of his act, to tike (collect), possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, or 
tra£:;por. at any (use or in any trutmio my bald eagle or goldeo eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest or egg 
thereof, withouX being specifiadly pennitted to do so by regulation or statue.* 

Protected means you MAY NOT AT ANY TIME OR FOR ANY REASON HCK UP A FEATHERI 

Igsonuce of the law ij not an excuse to escape prosecutioii. Possession is a 'strict liability' criiae meaning it is 

irrelevant whether or not you know what you are doing is wrong. It is seeo by the federal ageocies thsl because 

you possees the feathen, yon are guilty. 
> 

Surely, you have an opinion iboot this national iocideat happening right here in Monticetlo. (You'd be «m«T>«< at 
■ icsis of the people I've heird from over this new^kapcf colusml) I am trying to mutter local public support for 

cy plight by asking you to immediately contact all the people listed below • by phone, fix, letter. Tell them what 
ovou thxk about the situation. You may even know other people who should be eoligbteood about this true to life 

Cec'j^ UlinoLS drama. Keep in mind, in the last three days. Congress has been di&:ussing major cuts in Depart nmt 

cf Later.or which beads U.S. Fish and Wildlife. They have receotly wrestled with the Endangered Species Act and 

the I "-pa*' it has ooma to have on our citixess. 

Please ksow I am to tppear In federal ootut during the first week of August to coter a guilty plea. Tuae is crucial. 



37 



Gift may prove^icklish for first Bady 

By PETER ROOSETi' law. An mdivid 



Newj-GaietlB Staff Wfll«r 

CHICAGO — An agent of the 
'J.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said 
tha:, technically, first lady Hilla- 
ry Rodham Clinton could be 
charged with violating two fed- 
era! bird protection laws. 

Joseph E. B-jdzyn, the man 
who supervised the eagle feath- 
er possession investigation that 
landed a mra! Monticello woman 
:n hot water, said it's up to the 
U.S. Attorney's office in Ij'rbana 
whether to charge Clinton. 

Peg Bargon of rural Monticel- 
lo faces possible charges that 
she violated federal laws by giv- 
ing an Indian-inspired dream 
catcher made of feathers from 
various birds that ihe found to 
the first lady. Among the birds, 
jhe has said, were an eagle 
feather ana a hlue jjy feather. 

Bud;vn. a Chicafo-based se- 
nior resident apcnt of the US. 
Fish & Wildlife Service, said if 
Hillary Clinton accepted the 
dream catcher then she too 
would b« in violation of both the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act. en- 
acted by Congress in 1918, and 
the Eagle Protection Act. passed 
in 1940. 

"Theoretically, that's correct," 
he said. "The Migratory Bird 
freaty act is a strict liability 




ual does not 
have to have 
knowledge that 
they violated 
the law to have 
committed a vi- 
olation. 

Assistant 
U.S. Attorney 
Larry Beau- 
mont said this 
week that until 
formal charges ^^•-•^^- 
are filed, he can neither confirm 
nor deny that an eagle feathers 
case IS pending. 

J. Steven Beckett of Urbana. 
Bargon's attorney, said she 
claims she found the eagle feath- 
er at a 200 in Columbia, S C not 
in Peoria as was recently report- 
ed. 

Budzyn said his agency is pri- 
marily interested in prosecuting 
cases where feathers are lold 
for commercial gam. He 
stressed that eagle feathers shed 
in zoos are carefully monitored 
and not available to passers-by. 
"The zoos that do have eagles 
on display hold a permit to dis- 
play that eagle." he said. "One of 
the conditions of the permit is 
that they send the dropped 
feathers to the National Eagle 
Repository. All the birds and 
parts there are used to fill Na- 



tive American requests for eagle 
parts." 

Budzyn said the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act's original inten- 
tion was to recognize birds as 
national resources and to protect 
them It was first signed by the 
United Stales, Mexico ar.d Great 
Britain on behalf of Canada. Ja- 
pan signed the treaty in 1973 and 
the Soviet Union came aboard in 
1976. 

All migratory birds are cov- 
ered by the act, Budzyn said. 

"It covers basically all your 
birds except upland game birds 
— pheasant, grouse, partridge 
and wild turkey," he said. "The 
other three exceptions are pi- 
geons, sparrows and sLarhngs." 

TtiZ Eagle Protection Act was 
intended to protect the nation's 
symbol, the bald eagle, but also 
covers the golden eagle, Budzyn 
said. 

Mere possession of eagle 
feathers or migratory bird feath- 
ers can be punishable by up to 
six months in jail and a fine of as 
much as $56,000. Possession with 
intent to sell the feathers can 
bring up to a year in federal 
prison and a fine of up to 
$100,000, he said 

Budzyn said ignorance of the 
law is not an excuse, nor is 
claiming that the feathers were 
found. 



38 



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o> 



-•^°3a ?'""t-?^»c-? 









5 Sic 5 
3 J, y 



^ « q -!i * ^ "^ 



1- *j1i^l^§l til lli-=-9^h^:'^£f^ 











»*s! = E.s|i|°>y s^l^-s- 






39 



Our Opinions 



/7^^3'^5 



The eagle has landed 



When arguments over petty matters 
start to get our of hand, it's usually the 
peacemaker who issues a plea: All right. 
All right. Let's not make a federal case 
out of It. 

Which brings us to the case of Peg Bar- 
gori and the eagle feathers. Federal 
authorities are righteously mulling the 
idea of dragging the Monticello area 
woman into court because she violated 
federal law by possessing some eagle 
feathers. In the spirit of common sense, 
It's time to say to U.S. Attorney Frances 
Kuhn: Please, let's not make a federal 
case out of it. 

Those unfamiliar with the case of Bar- 
gon and her eagle feathers ought to look 
up a July 13 story, "Dream could become 
a nightmare," by The News-Gazette's 
Peter Rooney. Skeptics should be fore- 
warned: The story is no joke. 

What it is is an outrageous example of 
government excess. But, so far at least, 
federal authorities haven't let that obvi- 
ous fact influence their behavior. Mean- 
while, Bargon has hired an attorney to 
represent her. 

"This preposterous problem started 
innocently enough with a May 1994 visit 
by first lady Hillary Clinton to speak at a 
University of Illinois commencement. 
Bargon was contacted by then Piatt Coun- 
ty Democratic Party Chairman Elmer 
Purcell, who asked her to make a "dream- 
catcher" as a gift for Mrs. Clinton. 

According to Indian lore, the "dream- 
catcher" consists of a hoop with feathers, 
stones and beads attached. The feathers 
are intended to catch the bad dreams, 
while the stones and beads send the good 
dreams 'o the head of the owner. 

In making the dreamcatcher, Bargon 
used a variety of bird feathers, including 
an eagle feather she said she had picked 
up fro.Ti the bottom of a cage at a zoo. 

With Mr. Piirreii acti.^s as the conduit, 
Mrs. Ci:r.ior. 3-!7sec;uen'.:v received her 



"dreamcatcher" and sent Bargon a thank 
you note, ai! of which was duly noted in a 
June 13. 1994, story in The News-Gazette. 

Among the readers of the story was an 
official with the U.S. Fisii and WUdiife 
Service. On Aug. 4, 1994, federal agents 
raided Bargon's home. Now Bargon 
remams under threat of federal indict- 
ment. Mr. Purcell, who recently died, so 
, . far has managed to escape the federal 
dragnet. 

It is, of course, undeniably true that 
federal law bans possession of eagle 
feathers without the approval of the U.S. 
government. But this case could have 
been resolved with an exchange of let- 
ters. The idea of search warrants and 
threats of indictment are maddeningly 
ridiculous. 

What public purpose could be served by 
dragging Bargon into court? Does the 
government seriously contend that this 
woman, who works at the UI's Small Ani- 
mal Clinic, is a threat to migratory birds? 
And if Bargon is to be indicted for mere 
possession of the eagle feathers, how 
about indicting the first lady, too? 

Of course, indicting Hillary Clinton 
would be ridiculous, but no less ridicu- 
lous than this houndmg of Bargon. 

Government officials, of course, should 
realize that this case is at least as great a 
threat to their credibility as it is to Bar- 
gon's liberty. The public can understand 
pointless overkill. 

Here we have a situation in which gov- 
ernment agents are using a sledgeham- 
mer of a law to pursue gnats for no 
discernible public purpose. Earth to feds, 
come in, please! 

If there's another side to the story, let's 
hear it. If not, federal authorities should 
drop this matter irr.meciateiy. Bargon is 
now aware cf tne federal law on eagle 
feathe.'-s and likely wo.n't be using t.^em 
again. 

— J:.--. Dey 



40 



TESTIMONY OF MARSHALL P. JONES, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR 
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, 
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON 
FISHERIES, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS, HOUSE RESOURCES COMMITTEE, 
REGARDING THE WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT OF 1992 AND ITS 
IMPLEMENTATION 

SEPTEMBER 28, 1995 

Mr. Chairman, I am extremely pleased to be here today to address 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's implementation of the Wild 
Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA) and its effectiveness. The 
Service supports the reauthorization of this Act without any 
amendments. This Act is important to the continued survival of 
many of the world's most beautiful and impressive bird species. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act was signed into law on October 23, 
1992. The WBCA was enacted to promote the conservation of exotic 
birds listed under the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora by ensuring that all 
imports into the United States are biologically sustainable and 
not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild and 
to assist (where possible) wild bird conservation and management 
programs in the countries of their origin. 

It is important to note what the WBCA does not do: it does not 
regulate the interstate or intrastate commerce, or breeding of 
exotic birds within the U.S.; nor does it regulate the export of 
exotic birds from the U.S. The WBCA specifically exempts 10 
families of gamebirds and ratites (such as ostrich) , as well as 



41 



birds native to the 50 States and the District of Columbia from 
its provisions. 

At the time that the WBCA was enacted, the United States was the 
world's largest importer of wild exotic birds, importing more 
than 1.4 million wild birds from 1988 to 1990. Approximately 
half of these were parrots and other species protected by CITES. 
Experts estimated that for every wild-caught bird offered for 
sale in a pet store up to five died along the way, starting from 
the point of capture. During one five-year period from 1985 to 
1990, over 330,000 birds arrived at the U.S. port of entry 
already dead or they died within the first 30 days of quarantine, 
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The WBCA was passed to enhance CITES implementation by ensuring 
that any imports into the United States of CITES-listed species 
would be allowed only if the necessary biological findings could 
be made. CITES is the international treaty with 128 parties 
which regulates international trade in certain plant and animal 
species. CITES specifically acknowledges the obligation of each 
Party to enforce the treaty and to adopt its own national laws 
regulating trade in CITES-listed wildlife. However, many 
exporting countries lack the resources to obtain sufficient 
biological data regarding their wild bird populations to make the 
"non-detriment finding" required by CITES to ensure that trade is 



42 



biologically sustainable and not a threat to survival of the wild 
populations. 

The WBCA provided for implementation to be phased in over time. 
First, it established an immediate moratorium on the importation 
of ten species of wild birds of particular concern ("significant 
trade species") that were then listed in Appendix II of CITES. 
Second, it directed that for one year imports would be allowed 
under a quota, which set a maximum number of any CITES-listed 
bird species to be imported into the U.S for that year. During 
1993, 84,655 CITES-listed birds were imported into the U.S. in 
1,460 shipments. Third, for 1994 and in future years, imports of 
all CITES-listed birds were prohibited except for species 
included in an approved list or in cases where an import permit 
can be issued by the Service through implementing regulations. 

The Service has moved expeditiously to implement the WBCA. While 
the WBCA established a broad framework to allow the continued 
import of CITES-listed birds under certain conditions after the 
first year of enactment, all imports were prohibited until 
implementing regulations were promulgated by the Service. Given 
that the WBCA 'affected the import of many species previously 
unregulated, and a broad spectrum of constituent groups were 
interested in or affected by its implementation, the Service made 
public outreach and education a priority in developing its 
regulations. In an effort to reach interested groups, the 

3 



43 



Service has produced fact sheets and posters, given lectures, and 
published articles in the popular press on the WBCA. The Service 
worked cooperatively with many of the organizations presenting 
testimony here today to disseminate information on the WBCA and 
coordinated with the wildlife departments of foreign governments, 
and the avicultural, avian veterinary, zoological, conservation, 
and animal welfare communities. 

The Service's first priority for implementation of the WBCA was 
the issuance of regulations on permits under the WBCA which would 
allow importations for scientific research, zoological 
breeding/display, personal pets, and cooperative breeding 
programs designed to promote the conservation of the species and 
maintain the species in the wild. These were effective on 
November 16, 1993, only three weeks after the date that the WBCA 
prohibited all imports of CITES-listed exotic birds. 

As of August 8, 1995, the Service has issued over 550 permits to 
import CITES-listed exotic birds for scientific research, 
zoological breeding/display and as personal pets. The 
applications to import prohibited species have involved a wide 
variety of species listed in Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. 
Ninety two percent of these applications have involved the import 
of personal pets. Import applications for personal pets are, on 
average, processed within two weeks of the Office of Management 
Authority receiving a completed application. 

4 



44 



Permits also have been issued to 14 zoological institutions to 
import specimens for breeding and display for species ranging 
from Birds of Paradise from Papua-New Guinea to hummingbirds from 
Suriname. Permits are also available for imports associated with 
cooperative breeding programs. Programs have been approved for 
nine species ranging from harpy eagles with oversight by the 
Peregrine Fund to crimson-bellied conures with oversight by the 
American Federation of Aviculture. In reviewing cooperative 
breeding program applications, the Service seeks the expertise 
and opinion of the CITES Management Authorities and biologists in 
the range states regarding the status of the bird species to be 
imported and the conservation efforts for the species in the 
wild. For example, comments from the Government of Brazil have 
provided critical information needed to evaluate proposed 
cooperative breeding programs for Brazilian endemic parrots. 



The second priority for implementation was to establish an 
approved list of captive-bred species that came from captive 
breeding facilities in foreign countries. The Service considered 
these regulations a priority in order to facilitate shipments to 
U.S. by importers of these captive-bred species. Species on this 
approved list can be imported into the U.S. without a WBCA 
permit. The final list of approved species includes 45 captive- 
bred exotic bird species and the color mutations for 3 captive- 
bred species. As a result of comments received during the public 

5 



45 



review process, the Service expanded its proposed list and added 
a number of additional finch and parrot species to the final 
list. For example, the color mutations of several parrotlet 
species, masked lovebirds, western rosellas and Jendaya conures 
were added to the list in response to comments received. 

The 4 5 captive-bred species on this approved list can be imported 
into the U.S. in commercial quantities, thus encouraging their 
use by the pet industry to supply birds for the retail trade 
rather than wild-caught birds. For example, the Service has 
observed an increase in the import of captive-bred rosella 
parakeet species from European breeders and such imports have not 
been detrimental to the survival of native rosella species in 
Australia. 

The third priority for implementation was to establish the 
criteria for approving sustainable use management plans in range 
countries and, thereby, allowing the importation of wild-caught 
birds from those countries covered by a plan approved by the 
Service. Implementation of this proposed regulation would 
establish an approved list of wild-caught birds that can be 
imported without WBCA permits. A final decision on the proposed 
criteria is expected. 

While we are working to complete the regulatory process, the 
Service has initiated contact with several exporting countries 

6 



46 



that have expressed interest. We have offered technical 
expertise and support to those countries requesting assistance in 
monitoring psittacine populations and developing sustainable use 
management plans. In one instance, Service personnel visited 
Argentina (a major exporter of wild birds prior to the WBCA) to 
observe and comment on ongoing studies into the ecology and 
conservation of the Blue-fronted Amazon parrot and a potential 
plan for its sustainable harvest. The government of Indonesia 
has initiated studies into the sustainable management of its bird 
populations in anticipation of final regulations. 

The fourth priority for implementation was to establish criteria 
so that the Service can evaluate and approve foreign breeding 
facilities, as an alternative source for birds not available from 
sustainably-managed wild populations. These regulations have 
been proposed and over 4 000 public comments were received, 
including substantive input from many avicultural, raptor 
breeder, conservation, animal welfare, and scientific 
organizations and the pet industry. The Service is currently 
reviewing these comments to ensure that any final regulations are 
responsive to those comments. Once implemented such regulations 
would allow for the import of birds from an approved breeding 
facility without a WBCA permit. We expect a final decision to be 
made on these proposed regulations by the end of the year. 



47 



The Service recognizes that new laws, and the regulations derived 
from them, are frequently a source of confusion and 
misunderstanding for the affected public. This has certainly 
been true of the WBCA. A great deal of confusion resulted from 
the WBCA, requiring the Service to look at voluntary marking 
programs and report to the Congress. Many aviculturists 
interpreted this to mean that regulations would be implemented to 
require marking of all domestic birds. The Report to Congress on 
voluntary marking will be completed by the end of the year. 
However, The Service maintains that there is no need now, nor 
will there be in the future, to impose any labeling program on 
any breeder or business. There is no interest on the part of the 
industry in a cooperative, voluntary program of labeling exotic 
birds beyond those means that already exist, and there is no 
perceived need to promulgate regulations to implement such 
programs. 

Unfortunately, there have also been a number of misconceptions 
about the WBCA which have confused the public about its impact on 
domestic breeders of exotic birds. Some thought that the WBCA 
made it illegal to even possess a wild-caught bird as a pet. 
Others feared that one could only legally breed birds on the 
approved captive-bred list. There was significant concern that 
the WBCA would result in searching aviaries and seizing birds 
without cause. The Service has worked diligently to stress to 
the public that the WBCA only regulates the import of exotic 

8 



48 



birds, both captive-bred and wild-caught. The WBCA has no impact 
on birds bred within the U.S. and their export. 

Three years after the WBCA's enactment, it is working well to 
achieve its intended purpose conserving birds in the wild. 
Imports of CITES-listed bird species to the U.S. have declined 
significantly. During 1994, 12,565 CITES-listed birds and 89,431 
non-CITES-listed birds were imported into the U.S. while thus far 
in 1995, 3,794 CITES-listed birds and 30,850 non-CITES-listed 
birds have been imported into the U.S. The exemption process for 
imports of birds for zoological breeding/display, for personal 
pets, scientific research, and cooperative breeding programs is 
operational and working. When regulations for the approval of 
foreign breeding facilities and sustainable use management 
programs are adopted, the number of birds, both wild-caught and 
captive-bred, imported to the U.S. will increase. But that 
increase will be because importations have been found not to be 
detrimental to the species survival and providing for the 
species' conservation in the wild. 

Since enactment of the WBCA, domestic breeding efforts for exotic 
bird species in the U.S. have increased and a wide variety of 
domestically-bred species is available. We acknowledge the 
substantial contribution U.S. aviculturists can make towards 
supplying the demand for pet birds to the American consumer. We 
encourage them to participate in cooperative breeding programs 

9 



49 



for species that may not be well-represented in the U.S. and 
where importation assists genetic diversity for these species. 

Finally, the Service believes that the provisions of the WBCA 
which regulate import of captive-bred birds fill an important 
gap. While CITES approves and certifies captive-breeding 
facilities for CITES-listed Appendix I bird species, there is no 
equivalent approval process for CITES-listed Appendix II or III 
species. Problems remain in adequate regulatory and enforcement 
mechanisms in many countries of origin for species which are in 
trade. Therefore, no assurances exist that wild-caught birds are 
not being misrepresented and illegally imported as captive-bred 
birds. The WBCA allows captive-bred birds to be imported in a 
variety of ways: from an approved list of captive-bred species, 
or from an approved foreign breeding facility, or as a permitted 
exemption. Therefore, adequate means exist to provide for 
captive breeding under the WBCA. 

In closing, the Service strongly supports the re-authorization of 
the WBCA. The U.S. has shown world leadership in conserving 
exotic bird, populations and the re-authorization of the WBCA will 
reconfirm our commitment to continue this leadership. We look 
forward to working with this Committee during the re- 
authorization process. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 



10 



50 




^tatc of ^ein ^trst^ 



Christine Todd Whitman Department of Environmental Protection Robert C Shinn Ir 

Governor Commissioner 



Testimony before the House Subcommittee 

on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans on the Reauthorization of 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act 

by 

Lawrence Herrighty, Supervising Wildlife Biologist 

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection 

Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife 

September 28, 1995 



I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify today at 
this reauthorization hearing for the Wild Bird Conservation Act 
of 1992 (WBCA) . I am Larry Herrighty, supervising wildlife 
biologist for New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's 
Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife. I am the supervisor of the 
division's permit section, and in that capacity, I oversee the 
administration of New Jersey's own Wild Bird Act and regulations. 

I am here to support the reauthorization because I believe the 
act is necessary to conserve wild populations of exotic bird 
species which have a history of being exploited for commercial 
purposes. The people of New Jersey feel likewise. In 1991, the 
New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly passed a wild bird act 
which prohibited the possession of wild-caught birds not already 
in legal possession. Exceptions are allowed for zoological, 
scientific and conservation breeding programs. Only three 
species of exotic birds common to the pet trade were exempted in 
the act. Two more were exempted by regulation. As mandated, 
the regulations also establish methodologies to distinguish 
between wild-caught and captive bred birds. The Act also allows 
the department to promulgate a list of exempted bird species. 

New Jersey's act is, therefore, similar, but in some respects 
more restrictive than the federal act being discussed today. I 
believe New Jersey's experience is pertinent to todays discussion 
since we have had to deal with the same concerns, issues, 
questions and misconceptions which have resulted in this 
oversight hearing today. 



New Jersey is an Equal Opportunity Empio 
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51 



I have had the opportunity to read some of the newsletters that 
the America Federation of Aviculturists has sent to its members 
concerning this act, as well as the public comment in the Federal 
Register. In this material, I find no objection to the primary- 
purpose of the act, which is to curtail the commercial trade in 
wild-caught birds for those species in jeopardy. Therefore, I 
think we can all agree that this conservation objective is 
biologically and politically correct. 

What I do read, however, are three major areas of concern 
regarding regulations needed to enforce the act. The first issue 
involves the documentation to be provided by overseas breeders in 
order to prevent laundering of wild-caught birds and to create a 
list of qualifying overseas breeding facilities (section 107) . 

Second is the issue of the possibility of marking and record 

keeping allowed in section 115 of the act; and third, is the 

concern that the act will curtail captive breeding of exotic 
species in the United States. 

I will address each of these issues, because I have heard them 
all before in NJ. 

The first issue is the need to scrutinize documents for imported 
captive bred birds in order to regulate the trade in wild-caught 
birds . 

Some testimony heard today may declare that this is beyond the 
scope and intent of the WBCA. I argue that it is an essential 
and necessary wildlife management tool, without which, the 
objective of the WBCA can not be accomplished. 

Requiring a paper or document trail to distinguish between legal 
and illegally obtained wildlife is a long standing practice 
which is basic to wildlife management throughout North America. 
For example, hunters are required to tag their harvested big 
game; and commercial fishermen are required to log their 
landings. Throughout the processing of privately or commercially 
harvested wildlife, documents proving legal possession must 
accompany the product . 

The New Jersey Wild Bird Act requires purchasers to produce a 
receipt that indicates that the bird was domestically bred. 
Birds held prior to the act may be legitimized by dated 
photographs, veterinarian records or sworn statements. Proper 
documents protect the law abiding public and make it easier for 
law enforcement personnel to investigate questionable activities. 

In New Jersey, hobbyists owning exotic birds must obtain a 
possession permit. Of the 4,000 bird applications received so far 
this year, only 10 applicants have yet to provide us with the 
required documentation. Initially there was some confusion in 
New Jersey concerning what was legitimate documentation. Most 
questions involved pre -act birds. However, now our pet stores 
and private breeders have been educated and our constituents are 



52 



having very little problem obtaining proper documents. During 
all my conversations with dealers and their customers, The 
concept of requiring documentation to prove legitimacy was easily 
understood and accepted. 

Checking questionable documentation in New Jersey is easier 
because we have access to the records of in-state dealers. We 
can also rely on the assistance of fish and game agencies in 
other states should we wish to check the authenticity of a 
questionable source. 

Checking the documentation from other countries is obviously 
going to be more difficult. The WBCA allows the importation of 
captive bred birds. The regulations necessary to scrutinize 
this documentation has yet to be promulgated but they are already 
under fire. 

I believe it is legitimate to require that a foreign captive 
breeder document that his facility can actually breed the species 
and numbers of birds they intend to export. I also believe we 
should wait for the regulations concerning qualifying facilities 
as defined in section 106 to be published before we complain that 
they will be overly burdensome. 

The second issue involves the possibility that section 115 of the 
WBCA will be implemented. Section 115 allows the Secretary to 
promulgate regulations requiring marking (banding or tagging) and 
record keeping. The USFWS has already stated in public meetings 
that they do not intend to exercise this option since foreign 
banding is not a sure way to distinguish wild-caught from captive 
reared birds. I agree. Closed bands can be slipped on a young 
bird taken from a tree by some black marketer in order to launder 
it as captive bred. 

I should point out, however, that New Jersey requires that all 
birds bred in-state be fitted with a closed band. Unbanded pre- 
act birds must be banded with butt-end bands if resold. We 
specify bands from a particular manufacturer but also recognize 
bands being utilized already by members of the American 
Federation of Aviculture, the National Finch and Soft Bill 
Society and the Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors. We 
are also willing to allow bands from any other organization which 
is willing to help us trace a bird if it becomes necessary. We 
also allow micro-chip implants as an option for those wishing not 
to band their birds. 

Although New Jersey law is stricter in this regard, there are 
two points I would like to make. The first is that 
banding/tagging always helps the legitimate constituent and is an 
aid, although not fool proof, in apprehending the illegal 
purveyor of birds. Secondly, several national organizations 
have already recognized the value of banding as a method of 
individually tracking birds for breeding purposes. For these 
organizations, the banding is not overly burdensome but rather an 
aid to good animal husbandry. 



53 



As in New Jersey, allowances are made in the WBCA for importation 
of wild-caught birds for conservation purposes such as 
establishing captive breeding techniques for species not yet bred 
in captivity. I assure you that when wild birds are imported for 
these purposes, each bird will be banded or micro-chipped, since 
marking is the best way to track individual birds and their 
success in a breeding program. 

Thirdly, and closely tied in to the above two concerns is that 
captive breeding of birds in the United States is and will 
continue to be curtailed by the WBCA and resulting regulations. 

In New Jersey, we have found nothing further from the truth. One 
can only pick up a newspaper or scan the yellow pages to find 
breeders advertising that their birds are domestically bred and 
hand fed. Dealers are reacting to an educated consumer market 
that bought into the wild bird act from the very beginning. They 
are advertising what the consumers want, a friendlier and 
healthier pet. Wild-caught birds have always been cheaper but 
have always been wrought with health and behavioral problems. 

I have talked to hundreds of bird hobbyists and have yet to hear 
a consumer complain about the extra price he or she has to pay 
for a domestically bred bird. They have seen the television 
programs or read magazine articles on the exotic bird trade and 
they understand the conservation and the animal cruelty issues. 
They are quite satisfied to pay more, in order to get a bird 
which will be healthy and tame. Our wild bird act has helped 
the in- state breeder who must charge more for a bird that has 
been hand- fed and cared for with great attention. We have not 
hurt New Jersey aviculturists by our law, we have allowed them to 
flourish. 

I suggest that the same will be true for bird breeders across the 
United States. 

In conclusion, I believe the WBCA and its regulations have been 
fair and on target in meeting their stated objective. Dealing 
with an international issue such as conservation of exotic birds 
can not be effectively dealt with at a state level. As with 
other import / export issues involving wildlife, the regulation 
of exotic birds is best handled at the federal level by the 
U.S.F.W.S. which has a long history of cooperation with state 
wildlife agencies. 

New Jersey looks forward to the reauthorization of the WBCA and 
the full adoption of the required regulations. Perhaps then New 
Jersey regulations can be amended so that they mirror the federal 
standard, thereby conserving the exotic bird resource while 
providing our citizens with a consistent and unobtrusive 
regulatory framework from which to conduct their business or 
hobby . Thank you . 



54 



Summary of Testimony before the House Subcommittee 

on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans on the Reauthorization of 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act 

by 

Lawrence Herrighty, Supervising Wildlife Biologist 

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection 

Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife 

(609) 984-0839 

September 28, 1995 



The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection supports the 
reauthorization of the Wild Bird Conservation Act which regulates the 
importation of wild-caught exotic birds whose populations are being overly 
exploited for commercial trade. 

New Jersey passed a Wild Bird Act in 1991 which prohibits the possession of 
wild-caught birds except for zoological, scientific, and conservation breeding 
programs. Subsequent regulations require a marking system to distinguish wild 
caught vs. captive birds, allows importation of wild-caught birds to increase 
the genetic diversity of breeding stock when there is a demonstrated need; and 
the creation of an exempt species list. 

We, therefore, have familiarity with the concerns raised regarding the 
federal WBCA. The first concern is that the regulations go beyond the 
objective of the act by regulating the importation and by scrutinizing 
documentation for captive bred birds (Section 106). We disagree. Requiring 
documentation to distinguish between illegal and legal origin wildlife is a 
standard and proven wildlife management tool. Comments that these regulations 
will be overly burdensome aind will curtail captive breeding in the United 
States are premature since these regulations have yet to be promulgated. 

The second area of concern is section 115 of the Act which allows the 
Secretary to promulgate regulations to require marking and records to aid in 
enforcement. We agree with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that 
banding/marking is not the preferred method to distinguish imported wild 
caught birds from legitimate captive breed birds since closed bands can be 
placed on newly hatched wild caught birds. We further note, however, that 
banding has not been a problem in Mew Jersey cuid that several national 
avicultural organizations track individual birds through banding. 

Finally, there is a concern that regulations pursuatnt to the act which 
restrict importations of captive bred birds will be detrimental to domestic 
breeding programs. In New Jersey, we have found the opposite to be true. 
Our aviculturists recognize the conservation and cruelty issues involved with 
the wild bird trade and support the additional marking and document 
requirements. Additionally, without competition from cheaper wild caught 
birds, domestic breeding has become more profitable. 

We feel that the WBCA should be reauthorized because the exotic bird trade is 
best regulated at the federal level . 



55 



WWF 



STATEMENT OF 

JAMES P. LEAPE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT 

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND 

On the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

Before the 

Subcosmittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 

of the 

Committee on Resources 

September 28, 1995 



World Wildlife Fund 

1250 TwentyFounh St , NW Washington, DC 200371 175 USA 

Tel; (202)293-4800 Telex: 64505 PANDA FAX (202)293-9211 

Incorporating The Conservation Foundation AJfiliattd with World Wide Fund jor Nature 

® 

recycled paper 



56 



Introduction 

Mr. Chainnan and members of the Subcommittee, I am James P. Leape, Senior Vice 
President of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). I appreciate the oppormnity to appear before you 
today to comment on the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) as it has been implemented to 
date, and to present our views on why Congress should reauthorize a strong Act. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act was an important piece of wildlife conservation 
legislation when it was enacted three years ago and it remains a soimd law today. Its goals were 
two-fold - first, to curtail the trade tiiat had become harmful to wild populations of parrots and 
other exotic birds, and second, to allow a sustainable level of trade in avian species consistent 
with their long-term conservation in the wild. 

The first goal has been met. The Act has helped reduce our harmfiilly high levels of 
imports, and we are no longer contributing to the demise of many spectacular species. That is a 
major success by any measure. The jury is still out however on the Act's second goal ~ to allow 
for the sustainable trade in these species while ensuring that U.S. imports are not detrimental to 
wild populations. Regulations implementing two key mechanisms that would allow for that trade 
have not yet been issued, so it is not yet possible to assess how well the Act will achieve the 
second goal. 

It is important to highlight, however, that die Act has not shut off all bird imports 
completely: zoos have been able to import birds for public display; scientists have been able to 
import birds for research; and citizens have been able to bring home the pet birds they acquired 
while living abroad. And based on anecdotal information, it appears that pet shops have an 
ample supply of captive bred birds to sell, aixl in spite of the reduced imports, prices have not 
risen notably. 

In the remainder of my testimony I will explain why WWF believes it is important that 
the Act be fuUy implemented as soon as possible and I will make specific recommeixlations on 
how that can and should be done administratively. 

Background 

More than three years ago, I testified before Congress about the need for legislation to 
help halt the alarming decline of wild bird populations in many parts of the world, due to 
excessive international trade demands. While evidence indicated that habitat loss was the single 
most significant threat to most wild birds, international trade from the tropics and subtropics for 
the pet market was clearly contributing to the decline of some species. 



57 



In 1988, WWF convened the Cooperative Working Group on Bird Trade', which I 
chaired, to conduct a comprehensive analysis of imports of live exotic birds into the United 
States. The recommendations of the Working Group, which met over a period of two years, laid 
the groundwork for the Wild Bird Conservation Act. These recommendations resulted from frank 
discussion, hard negotiation, and compromise that a diverse range of interested organizations 
accepted as the most practical and feasible way to reduce mortality and to control trade in wild- 
caught birds. Representatives from the conservation community, animal welfare groups, 
American zoos, avicultural interests, and the pet industry recognized that in the long-term we 
share a common interest — maintenance of healthy populations of birds in the wild around the 
world. 

This willingness ~ on the part of the avifauna industry and wildlife conservationists - to 
work together on a common interest is a tremendously constructive approach. We need to ensure 
that the end result of our collaboration ~ the Wild Bird Conservation Act - is being implemented 
in a manner that addresses our individual concerns as well as our shared interests if it is to serve 
as a model for cooperation on wildlife conservation issues in the future. I commend you for 
holding this hearing to air coiKems about the Act and to try to find appropriate ways to address 
them. 

Decreasing wild bird populations, particularly in tropical regions of the world, have been 
of increasing concern to international conservationists for over a decade: the Convention on the 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Faima and Flora (CITES) recognized in 1981 
that the heavy trade in parrots had die potential to threaten wild populations, and listed aU 
parrots, including macaws, parakeets and lories (with the exception of three species), on 
Appendix II, which requires range states to ensure that exports of the species are not harmful to 
wild populations. A subsequent CITES review drew attention to the large nimibers of parrots in 
international trade and resulted in recommendations that additional trade controls be implemented 
in a number of countries. At each Conference of the Parties to CITES in the last 15 years, a few 
more parrot species have been moved from Appendix II to Appendix I as trade has taken its toll; 
the scarlet macaw in 1985, the hyacinth macaw in 1987 and the Goffms cockatoo in 1992, to 
mention only a few examples. The European Community, the world's largest regional market, 
has implemented regulations that go beyond CITES requirements and has prohibited imports or 
established restrictive quotas on several species of parrots. Finally, several airlines no longer 
transport wild birds. 

As a result of this attention - both in the U.S. and internationally - range states have 
begun to take steps to control the exports of their wild birds. Of the five major bird exporting 



Members of the Cooperative Working Group on Bird Trade: American Association 
of Zoological Parks cind Aquariums, American Federation of Aviculture, American 
Pheasant and Waterfowl Society, Animal Protection Institute of America, Animal 
Welfare Institute, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Humane Society of the 
United States, International Council for Bird Preservation, National Audubon 
Society, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, Society for Animal Protective 
Legislation, TRAFFIC USA, and World Wildlife Fund 



58 



countries, four - Argentina, Guyana, Indonesia and Tanzania - have significantly reduced bird 
exports by increasingly restrictive quotas. For example, Indonesia reduced its quota for the 
violet necked lory from over 4,000 birds in 1990 to under 1,000 in 1995, and Guyana reduced 
exports of the orange winged amazon from 15,000 in 1989 to 9,000 this year. 

Some countries have also taken steps to strengthen their control of the bird trade. 
Tanzania has developed a management plan for trade in live birds requiring that quotas be 
established at the species level; that the total number of each species available for export be 
divided among licensed exporters; that quotas take into account post-capture mortality, and that 
the number of companies dealing with live birds be limited to around 30. Similarly, Indonesia 
has sought to improve its monitoring capability to more effectively track trade in wild birds. The 
country's wildlife department points to a number of steps it has a taken in the past few years, 
including more rigorous procedures for establishing harvest quotas, an annual review comparing 
export quotas with capn^re quotas, the establishment of a shipping permit requirement, and the 
establishment of additional requirements for exporter registration. Although both countries 
continue to face significant difficulties in effectively controlling the bird trade, positive steps have 
clearly been taken. 

WWF has supported efforts to generate information necessary for determining the status 
of populations and sustainable levels of trade. Specifically, we have funded parrot population 
assessments in Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Argentina. Additional surveys have been 
funded through other sources in Indonesia and Argentina. Sufficient biological information is not 
available, however, for most species, and effective trade controls are not yet in place to warrant 
reopening the trade. In the majority of range states, field studies have not been undertaken to 
assess the status of national bird populations. Additionally, almost nothing is known in most 
countries about the number of birds harvested for domestic use, which may significantiy impact 
wild bird populations. As a result, most bird producing countries still do not have adequate 
information on their wild bird populations to determine if a sustainable harvest for export is 
possible. That being the case, it is clear that the Wild Bird Conservation Act is still very much 
needed. 

Is the WBCA working? 

Because the WBCA has not yet been fully implemented, it is difficult at this point to 
judge what its ultimate impact and success will be. However, some initial assessments can be 
made. Total bird imports - including wild-caught and captive-bred birds — fell from a high of a 
reported 848,000 in 1984 to 478,000 in 1992 to 102,000 in 1994. The precipitous decline in 
U.S. imports of wild-caught birds clearly demonstrates that we are not contributing to the 
depletion of wild populations to the extent we had in the past. The WBCA anticipated, however, 
that by the time the ban on wild-caught imports of CITES-listed birds took effect, mechanisms 
would be in place to allow the importation of birds at levels and from sources that do not 
contribute to the decline of wild populations. Those regulations have not yet been published. 

Key to achieving the Act's goal of wild bird conservation is to ensure that all trade in 
wild birds involving the U.S. is biologically sustainable. The Act seeks to achieve that goal by 
allowing the importation of CITES-listed birds only if the country from which they originate has 



59 



implemented an adequate management plan for their conservation, or if they are bred in captivity. 
An exemption to this rule is provided for four categories of non-commercial imports: zoological 
display, scientific research, cooperative breeding programs, and personal pets. Birds that are not 
listed under CITES can be imported unless the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finds that they 
are threatened by trade. 

Exemptions under the WBCA 

As noted above, the WBCA provides four exemptions for bird imports: for scientific 
research, zoological breeding or display, and cooperative breeding programs; and pet owners 
may bring their pet birds into the country after living abroad. WWF believes the regulations and 
permit application requirements for importing birds pursuant to these exemptions are reasonable 
and not overly burdensome. Experienced and qualified breeders should not have difficulty 
providing the information that is required. It was anticipated that this exemption would be used 
for the importation of wild caught birds, in which case the information is warranted and 
appropriate. However, this exemption is also being used for the time being for the importation 
of birds bred in captivity, since the regulations for the approval of foreign captive breeding 
facilities have not yet been issued. We understand the frustration on the part of those who have 
found that this was the only route available for the importation of a bird from a captive breeding 
facility. The sohition is not to change the requirements for imports under the exemption, but 
rather to expedite the regulations for the approval of foreign captive breeding facilities. 

Regulations for M3 nap ;ement Plans and Breeding Facilities 

The WBCA broadly defines what constitutes an adequate management plan and qualifying 
foreign breeding facility, and delegates authority to the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue 
regulations containing specific criteria, and to process applications submitted pursuant to those 
criteria. Unfortunately, Congress has not provided sufficient funds for the FWS to implement the 
WBCA, and the issuance of final regulations has been delayed for nearly two years. As a result, 
many birds bred in captivity in foreign countries caimot be imported, and there is not yet a 
procedure for importing birds from countries with sound management programs. 

The fact that final regulations are not yet in place is especially troubling with respect to 
the import of birds from qualified captive breeding facilities in foreign countries. Because these 
regulations have not been issued, the WBCA has unintentionally closed a viable source of captive 
bred birds. That was clearly not intended: die Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee Report 
on the WBCA acknowledged that "successful breeding of species of birds popular in the pet trade 
may help reduce the pressiu-es on wild populations by iiKreasing the numbers of birds that are 
available from captive-bred sources in both the United States and elsewhere." We urge the Fish 
and Wildlife Service to expedite the issuance of those regulations and, if it appears that additional 
delay is unavoidable, to consider providing an interim means of importing birds listed on 
Appendix II and m to CITES when they are verifiably bred in captivity. 

The proposed rules on foreign captive breeding facilities have generated heated 
discussion. While it is important to use care and scrutiny in overseeing foreign breedmg facilities 
to ensure that diey are not used to launder wild<aught birds, WWT believes that the regulations - 



60 



- as originally proposed - would have imposed some requirements that seemed to be unnecessary 
to achieve the goals of the Act. The goal of these regulations should be to ensure that captive 
breeding facilities are capable of breeding birds of the variety and in the quantity that they seek 
to export and that the facilities are not used as a means of laundering wild-caught birds. The 
FWS has received extensive comments of the proposed regulations and we hope that the fuial 
rules will be responsive to those comments and not raise unnecessary barriers to legitimate 
captive breeding. 

Regulations have also been proposed for the approval of management plans to provide for 
the sustainable harvest of wild birds in range states. WWF believes that the sustainable use of 
wildlife can in some instances play a constructive role in conservation, by providing incentives to 
protect both wildlife and the habitat on which the wildlife depends. Sound management plans, 
including law enforcement schemes, are crucial to ensure that trade in exotic birds does not harm 
wild populations. Indeed, WWF has devoted significant resources to efforts to help range states 
develop good, scientifically based wildlife management plans. We hope the FWS will issue final 
regulations that assure that any wild-caught birds imported to the U.S. in the future are harvested 
pursuant to sound management plans with clear conservation benefits, but that the regulations not 
impose requirements unnecessary to achieving that goal. 

Marking of Birds 

The WBCA authorizes the FWS to promulgate regulations requiring marking or record- 
keeping of birds. Those provisions were included to address the serious issue of smuggling. It 
is excessively difficult to distinguish between legally and illegally obtained birds unless the legal 
birds are marked in some way. The marking issue consumed many hours of discussion during 
meetings of the Cooperative Working Group on the Bird Trade. It was a contentious issue for 
the Working Group five years ago, and remains so today. 

It is admittedly difficult to devise a foolproof marking system. It does not appear that the 
FWS will use this authority in the foreseeable future, as establishing a federal marking system is, 
for technical and logistical reasons, not realistic in the short term. WWF believes that because a 
feasible marking system is not yet developed, the FWS should not promulgate regulations on 
marking at this time. Instead, FWS should concentrate its attention and limited resources on 
enforcing the Act's provisions regarding the import of wild birds in a way that does not impede 
legitimate captive breeding programs. 

A ppendix HI 

Under CITES, a coimtry may act unilaterally to add a species to Appendix III. The effect 
of such a listing is that exports of that species from that coimtry, and only from that country, are 
treated as an Appendix n species, and as such must be accompanied by an export permit. Other 
countries exporting the same species simply issue a certificate of origin of the specimen. We 
believe that it was the intent of Congress that Appendix IE species would be treated as CITES 
species for purposes of this Act only when they were exported from the coimtries that listed them 
on Appendix III. The Fish and Wildlife Service had the same understanding and its regulations 
reflected that interpretation. However the FWS was sued over the regulations and the court 



61 



found that the W6CA applies to Appendix III birds, regardless of their origin. If and when 
Congress reauthorizes this Act, we recommend the issue be clarified to reflect what we believe 
was Congress's original intent. 

Aid to Range States 

One of the stated purposes of the act is to promote the conservation of exotic birds by 
"assisting wild bird conservation and management programs in the countries of origin of wild 
birds." In this respect the Act has fallen far short of its intent. When the European Community 
imposes a ban on bird imports from a range state, or sets restrictive quotas, it also supports 
efforts to collect the information necessary to determine safe levels of harvest and reopen the 
trade. The United States should do likewise. Coincidentally, a source of funding has recently 
become available to the Fish aiKl Wildlife Service that can and should be used for this purpose. 
The Department of the Interior and the Agency for International Development have initiated a 
joint program to improve the capacities of developing countries to conserve biological diversity 
and promote sustainable development. A portion of the ftinds are to be used to improve the 
capabilities of developing countries to implement CITES. We urge the Fish and Wildlife Service 
to use funds under this program to help range states design wild bird management programs that 
will meet the requirements of the WBCA and to conduct field research necessary to support those 
management programs. 

Summary and Conclusions 

• The United States plays a huge role in international trade in wildlife; at more than $1 
billion in annual imports, this coimtry remains the world's largest wildlife market. Our level of 
vigilance and active assistance helps determine the fate of many commercially-valuable species, 
and we believe that the U.S. therefore has a special responsibility to maintain strong policies and 
laws to ensure that commerce in wildlife ~ and in this case, birds - does not put species at risk. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act remains a viable framework through which the U.S. can 
control imports of birds. Although there have been a few glitches in its implementation, they can 
be fixed administratively, and do not ~ with the one exception noted below - require a change in 
the law. We note that the Act does not appear to have resulted in a shortage of birds for sale as 
pets, nor have prices risen notably. If the Act is reauthorized, it should not be tinkered with, but 
rather it should be given a chance to work as it was intended. Our specific recommendations are 
as follows: 

o Final regulations implementing the Act should be issued promptly. 

o The Fish and Wildlife Service should be provided sufficient funds for the Act's 
implementation. 

o Assistance should be provided to range states to help them manage their wild bird populations 
sustainably. 

o The Fish and Wildlife Service should focus its limited resources on regulations enstiring that 



62 



the bird trade does not have a negative impact on wild populations, rather than issuing bird 
marking regulations. 

o If the Act is reauthorized, the Appendix m issue should be clarified. 



63 



Svumnary o£ testimony 

on the 

Wild Bird Conservation Act 



James P . Leape 

World Wildlife Fund 

1250 Twenty-Fourth St., NW 

Washington DC 20037-1175 

(202) 293-4800 

September 28, 1995 



The United States plays a huge role in international trade 
in wildlife; at more than $1 billion in annual imports, this 
country remains the world's largest wildlife market. Our level 
of vigilance and active assistance helps determine the fate of 
many commercially-valuable species, and we believe that the U.S. 
therefore has a special responsibility to maintain strong 
policies and laws to ensure that commerce in wildlife -- and in 
this case, birds -- does not put species at risk. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act remains a viable framework 
through which the U.S. can control imports of birds. Although 
there have been a few glitches in its implementation, they can be 
fixed administratively, and do not -- with the one exception 
noted below -- require a change in the law. If the Act is 
reauthorized, it should not be tinkered with, but rather it 
should be given a chance to work as it was intended. Our 
specific recommendations are as follows: 

o Final regulations implementing the Act should be issued 
promptly. 

o The Fish and Wildlife Service should be provided sufficient 
funds for the Act's implementation. 

o Assistance should be provided to range states to help them 
conserve their wild bird populations. 

o The Fish and Wildlife Service should focus its limited 
resources on regulations ensuring that the bird trade does not 
have a negative impact on wild populations, rather than issuing 
bird marking regulations. 

o If the Act is reauthorized, the Appendix III issue should be 
clarified. 



64 




4*1 



OgvM O WMiers, UX) 
f^ Overman 



TESTIMONY ON THE UNITED STATES 
WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT OF 1992 



ST.\FFMCE PRESIDENTS 



MchaelW Fox. DSc, Pti.D., 

a Vet. Mod.. MRCVS 

BioetNcs and Farm Animai Protection 



Before the House Subcommittee 

on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 

of the Committee on Resources 



September 28, 1995 



DIRFX-TORS 

Donald W Cashen 
Anita W Coupe. Esq. 
JixJi Fnedman 
Harold H, Gardiner 
Alice fl Garey 
Jane Goodall. Ph 0. 
Julian Hopkins 
Jennifer Leaning. M D 
Amy Freeman Lee. Utl D 
Eugene W Loren2 
Jack W Lydman 
Virginia S Lynch 
William F MarKuso 
Thomas L Memhardl 
O J Hamsey. Esq 
James D Boss 
Manlyn G Seyler 
Paula R Smith 
Johr '= Tatt 
Ca Thnll 

RoL. .- Welbom, Esq 
David O Wiebers, M 
Maniyn E- Wilheim 
K William V^iseman 



Pnnled on recycled paper 



Presented by Teresa M, Telecky, Ph.D. 

Director, Wildlife Trade Program 

The Humane Society of the United States 



On Behalf of : 

American Humane Association 

Defenders of Wildlife 

Earth Island Institute 

Environmental Investigation Agency 

Society for Animal Protective Legislation 

Washington Humane Society 



The Ihiiiuiiic Society tii' ilie t'liiteti Si:iies 
2100 I. Sireel. NW \V:i>hiiimoii. DC 2(MM7 
(202) 4S2 1HH» FAX (2(>2) 77S-M.^2 



65 



Executive Smnmarv 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) was enacted by unanimous Congressional consent 
on October 23, 1992 for the purpose of conserving wild, exotic birds in their natural habitats. 
It receives the widespread support of environmental, conservation and animal protection 
organizations, zoos, bird breeders and pet stores. Federal legislation was recognized as being 
the only solution to the inherent problems of the United States trade in wild exotic birds. 
Prior to the adoption of the WBCA, it was recognized that: 

■ The United States was the world's largest consumer of wild birds for pets-importing 
more than 7.4 million exotic birds between 1980 and 1991.' High mortality of birds in trade 
increased the number that needed to be captured from the wild to supply the pet industry. 
Experts estimated that for every bird offered for sale in the United States, up to five died 
along the way.' 

■ American consumers were unknowingly generating a global demand for exotic birds that 
was severely jeopardizing wild populations. This demand was directly responsible for the 
endangerment of a number of species such as the Moluccan cockatoo. Coffin's cockatoo, and 
the blue-streaked lory. Once a species was imperiled to the point of needing international 
protection, the trade would simply move on to the next available species until it too would 
come close to vanishing. This trend repeated itself again and again. 

■ After nearly twenty years of attempting to regulate the commercial trade in exotic wild 
birds for pets through existing domestic laws, international conventions, and other mechanisms, 
the abuses continued. The widespread availability of inexpensive wild-caught birds encouraged 
the exploitation of wild populations and perpetuated the over-reliance of the United States pet 
market on wild bird imports. Despite the absence of the in-situ studies needed to determine 
whether trade was sustainable, birds continued to be removed from the wild in large numbers. 

■ The efforts of other nations to prohibit the exportation of their indigenous species had 
often proven futile in the face of the lucrative United States market. To supply this market, 
exotic wild birds were commonly laundered from a country prohibited export to a neighboring 
country, which permitted exports. 

■ The legal trade in wild birds was serving as a smoke-screen for the illegal trade. Prior 
to the WBCA, smugglers took advantage of the lack of controls in international trade and the 
lack of basic scientific information on these species to by-pass international and national 
restrictions on wild bird imports. 

■ Commercial trade in exotic wild birds was, and is completely unnecessary. Aviculture 
already has enough individuals of most species to work with, so inbreeding is in most cases 



' Wyerman. James K. Testimony on H.R. 5013, The Wild Bird Conservation Act, before the Subcommittee 
on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment, 16 June 1992. 

■ Liebennan, Susan. Landmark U.S. Legislation Will Conserve Exotic Wild Birds. Endangered Species 
Technical Bulletin. December 1992. 



66 



completely avoidable.^ For some endangered parrot species, there are more birds in captivity 
than remain in the wild. 

The WBCA is effectively addressing all of these problems. Import prohibitions have been fully 
active for only one short year, and already the Act is a great success. United States imports of 
wild exotic birds have been greatly reduced, giving wild populations the opportunity to recover 
from years of excessive trade. No longer is the United States responsible for the careless waste 
and destruction of wild birds. Instead, we are now a world leader in promoting wild bird 
conservation. 

To ensure that the WBCA continues to achieve its intended goals, we oppose any efforts to 
reduce the Act's requirements for the importation of birds into this country, whether these are 
wild-caught or captive-bred individuals. The present requirements are the absolute minimum 
necessary to ensure that the WBCA is effective in meeting its purpose, and to ensure that 
illegal imports are not easily laundered into the legitimate United States pet market. 

Easing WBCA requirements for importing foreign captive -bred birds by requiring only maricing 
or banding would allow for the ingress of large numbers of illegal and even endangered wild 
birds into the United States The profits to be made from such illegal trade are lucrative, 
providing a great incentive for laundering wild birds as captive-bred. A recent indictment of 
Tony Silva, one of the world's most prominent experts in aviculture, charges him with 
involvement in long-term, large-scale smuggling of wild birds into the captive -bred bird market. 
Closed leg bands can easily be placed on the legs of young wild birds, or as in the case of this 
famous bird expert, cruelly forced onto the legs of wild adult birds. The presence of a closed 
band for any bird entering this country does not guarantee legitimacy 

We strongly urge the Subcommittee to reauthorize the United States Wild Bird Conservation 
Act without any language changes or weakening amendments. By ensuring that exotic birds 
imported into this country no longer jeopardize the status of wild populations, some of the 
world's most beautiful birds will continue to fly free. 



Background-Wild Birds Threatened by Trade 

Worldwide, between 8 and 20 million exotic birds are captured from the wild annually for the 
pet trade. This large-scale trade destroys wild bird populations at an alarming rate. Trade and 
habitat destruction combined threatens at least 1,000 of the 9,200 bird species known to exist.^ 

Commercial trade is responsible for the cruel death of millions of birds every year. Even 
before captured wild birds leave their countries of origin, an estimated 50% die as a result of 



' Toft. Catherine. 1990. "Genetics of Captive Propagation (Parts I and 11)" BIRDWORLD. 

■■ Wyerman, James K. Testimony on H.R. 5013, The Wild Bird Conservation Act, before the Subcommittee 
on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment, 16 June 1992. 



67 



improper treatment and the stress of captivity/ Those that survive are packed into crates, 
loaded along with other cargo into the holds of airplanes, and transported to consuming 
nations. At the time of export, many of the birds already suffer from dehydration, starvation, 
heat exhaustion and injury. The added effects of overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, 
temperature extremes, stress and disease, lead to significant levels of transit mortality. For 
example, in just a one-year period before implementation of the WBCA, seven separate 
shipments imported into the United States had more than 1,000 birds dead on arrival.' 

For birds entering the United States, a 30 day quarantine period is required, during which 
mortalities continue to rise. In many of these privately owned facilities, overcrowded and 
unsanitary conditions are prevalent. Because birds from different countries are quarantined 
simultaneously, disease is sometimes rampant. Between 14-20% of the birds imported into the 
United States during the past decade died en route or during quarantine. To compensate for 
this mortality, even greater numbers are removed from the wild to meet consumer demands. 

Tragically, the destructiveness of this trade is not limited to the large numbers of wild birds 
captured for export. Indiscriminate methods of capture result in suffering and mortality of 
non-target species. Many of these are unsuitable for trade and are simply discarded. The 
removal of chicks from nest cavities often involves the use of an ax or machete to access the 
young, exacerbating problems of habitat destruction. For example, a 1991 report by 
Argentinean scientist Dr. Enrique Bucher revealed that roughly 100,000 trees were damaged or 
destroyed between 1981 and 1989, as a direct result of the legal collection of the blue-fronted 
amazon parrot for commercial trade. This method of collection left more than 95% of the 
nest sites unusable for future nesting.' The WBCA is now providing a critical resting period 
for this species, whose primary destination was the United States pet market. 



Background-A Failure of Regulation and Control 

After nearly twenty years of attempting to regulate the commercial trade in exotic wild birds 
prior to the WBCA, neither federal laws nor international controls were effective in halting the 
decline of wild populations due to trade, or in preventing widespread illegalities. 

The dire lack of basic biological data for the majority of traded species prevents listing under 
the United States Endangered Species Act. Because disguising the true origin of illegally 
imported birds is common practice, it is almost impossible to adequately enforce the United 
States Lacey Act. This law forbids imports of birds taken illegally in their range countries. 
The majority of nations, including the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras, 
Zimbabwe, Australia and India, have domestic laws prohibiting the export of native birds for 



^ Nilsson. Greta. 1 981 . Bird Business : A Study of the Commercial Cage Bird Trade . Animal Welfare 
Institute: Washington, D.C. 

^ Nilsson, Greta. 1992. Importation of Birds into the United States in 1989 . Defenders of Wildlife: 
Washington, D.C. 

' Bucher, E.H. Sustainable Harvesting of Parrots for Conservation. 1992. New World Parrots in Crisis : 
Solutions from Conservation Biology . Smithsonian Institution Press., Washington, D.C. 



68 



the pet market. Yet, due to the demands of the United States market, nations wishing to 
protect birds from trade found it impossible to prevent the smuggling of wildlife to neighboring 
countries, which allow exports. 

In one investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Division of Law 
Enforcement, two of the largest importers of wild exotic birds in the United States were found 
to be using the legal trade as cover for massive smuggling operations. By using falsified export 
permits, protected birds worth millions of dollars were smuggled into the United States. The 
export permits were easily obtained by bribery from the officials of neighboring nations that 
allow export. In another case, tens of thousands of African grey parrots were exported for 
years from Senegal before it was discovered that the species did not even exist in that country.* 
Once smuggled birds enter our nation, it is impossible to determine their true origin. 
Consequently, United States consumers were unintentionally supporting the illegal trade in 
wild birds, a business that the Wall Street Journal has compared to the drug trade in terms of 
profits, only without the threat of substantial penalties.' 

Almost all exotic bird species for which wild individuals are subject to legal, commercial trade 
are listed on Appendices II and III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered 
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Appendix Il-listed species, which includes all but 
three species of parrots, are those that might become threatened with extinction if trade is not 
controlled through a system of permits. Prior to granting an export permit for these species 
countries are required to make a finding that the export will not be detrimental to the species. 
However, virtually none of the studies needed to determine the sustainability of trade and 
make the required non-detriment findings has been conducted. 

As unsustainable trade in Appendix Il-listed bird species continues, wild populations eventually 
decline to the point of requiring an Appendix I listing, which bans international trade. 
However, Appendix I protection is often too late to prevent a continuing decline towards 
extinction. Birds in an endangered population become even more prized by collectors due to 
the limited number of individuals remaining. As a result, their dollar value multiplies, fueling 
an illegal trade which furthers the species' decline. In fact, for some species greater numbers 
exist in captivity than in the wild due to trade demands. 

Because existing treaties, laws and regulations were providing inadequate protection, the 
United States, as the major consuming market for exotic wild birds, needed to take a 
leadership role in seeking a solution to the severe problems presented by this destructive trade. 
We needed to support the efforts of other nations to protect their native fauna by ensuring 
that we were no longer a participant in the unsustainable trade in wild exotic birds. 



' Nilsson, Greta. 1992. Importation of Birds into the United States Animal Welfare Institute: 
Washington, D.C. 

' Allen, Michael. Parrot Smuggling Closely Apes the Drug Trade but Isn 't as Risky. The Wall Street 
Journal. 28 December 1990. 



69 



The Drafting of a Solution 



In order to address the problems associated with the United States trade in exotic wild birds, a 
Cooperative Working Group on Bird Trade was convened in 1988. Participants included 
representatives from conservation and animal protection organizations, the pet trade, 
aviculture, avian veterinarians and the zoological community. After agreeing that the United 
States demand for exotic pet birds resulted in harm to wild populations and unacceptable levels 
of mortality, the group began drafting legislation to restrict importation for commercial trade. 
Though it was agreed that the goal of such legislation should be to end market reliance on wild 
birds for pets, the constituent groups could not reach a consensus on issues such as the time- 
frame for ending the trade or exemptions for wild imports. 

As a result of these differences, two bills addressing the wild bird trade were introduced 
simultaneously in the United States Congress in 1991. The United States Wild Bird Protection 
Act, which called for an immediate ban on imports of wild birds, was supported by more than 
200 conservation and animal protection groups, ornithologists and scientific organizations. The 
United States Exotic Bird Conservation Act called for a five-year "phase -out" of imports and 
contained numerous loopholes, which would permit large-scale trade to continue under other 
pretenses. This legislation was supported by the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA), 
the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), which represented the major commercial 
importers, and the Worid Wildlife Fund (WWF). 

After a year and a half of intensive lobbying and hard work, the opposing bills resulted in a 
virtual standstill. Finally, a delicately-crafted compromise bill, the United States Wild Bird 
Conservation Act, was introduced as a result of intense negotiation. The Act passed by 
unanimous Congressional consent and later, signed into law by President George Bush on 
October 23, 1992. 



A Remarkable Success 

Since its implementation in 1992, the United States Wild Bird Conservation Act has resulted in 
a dramatic reduction in the number of wild birds imported into the United States. Whereas in 
1989, approximately 365,655 exotic bird were imported into this country, a recent analysis of 
United States Department of Agriculture quarantine forms reveals that in 1994, roughly 81,000 
birds were imported. Many of these imports were birds receiving an exemption under the 
WBCA or those not included on CITES, and therefore not included in the scope of the 
WBCA. Furthermore, the WBCA has halted the enormous numbers of wild birds which had 
in the past died in exporting countries, in holds of airplanes and in private quarantine stations 
as a result of United States demand for cheap imports. Over the years, these mortalities 
amounted to many millions of wild exotic bird.s-a tragedy that remained unseen by American 
consumers until the campaign for national legislation. 

The WBCA is indisputably having a positive result worldwide by providing wild bird 
populations with a critical reprieve from the capture of massive numbers for the American pet 
market. Just one example of a species benefitting from WBCA implementation is the blue- 
fronted amazon parrot of Argentina. The WBCA ban on importation of wild birds is providing 



70 



an important opportunity for this species to recuperate from the excessive numbers that were 
taken for export to the United States year after year. 

Through the implementation of the WBCA, the United States is communicating to developing 
nations that we will no longer tolerate the continuation of American activities that hinder their 
efforts to protect indigenous bird species firom the devastating effects of international trade. 
Prior to this Act, our involvement in the 'legal" wild bird trade was promoting massive 
illegalities in range countries. Now, trade in wild birds will only be permitted when there is 
sufficient proof that it will not be detrimental to wild populations, will not incur significant 
mortalities and will be in complete compliance with the legal requirements of range and 
exporting nations. The responsibility and cost of demonstrating that the trade is not 
destructive will be placed on those profiting from the trade. 

The WBCA has indirectly resulted in improvements, internationally, of controls on the trade in 
exotic wild birds. Promotion of the issue resulted in more than one hundred and twenty 
international airlines adopting bans on the carriage of wild birds for the commercial pet trade. 
Guyana banned all wild bird exports in 1993, as a result of publicity associated with exports to 
America. In addition, the United States' advancement of a legislative solution to problems 
associated with the commercial trade, contributed to adoption of a CITES resolution entitled 
Significant Trade in Animal Species on CITES Appendix II. This resolution seeks to ensure 
trade in these species occurs at sustainable levels, as required by the treaty, and allows CITES 
to set restrictions on trade and/or require population monitoring. 

By restricting imports, the WBCA has successfully shifted the United States' reliance on 
imported wild birds for pets to birds that are bred-in-captivity. Prior to the Act, the 
widespread availability of cheap wild-caught birds fueled the continued exploitation of wild 
populations. Though captive-breeding could easily fulfill the demand for pet birds, the 
economic incentives for captive breeding simply did not exist. It is much cheaper to import 
wild birds than to produce them through captive breeding. As long as wild imports continued, 
aviculturists would be at a competitive disadvantage. Similarly, pet stores that endeavored to 
sell only captive-bred birds often had a difficult time competing with the stores that retailed 
cheaper wild birds. 

By forcing the domestic bird market to sfiift its emphasis to captive-bred birds, the WBCA is 
not only helping to conserve birds in the wild, but it is also providing American consumers with 
healthy, captive-bred birds, which make more appropriate pets than wild-caught birds. Exotic 
birds bred-in-captivity, unlike wild birds, are accustomed to life in captivity and therefore make 
more suitable companion animals. In addition, they are generally healthier, long-lived pets 
(Some parrots can live for over fifty years.). The sfiift to birds bred-in-captivity also is 
advantageous from a disease standpoint. Diseases carried by wild birds, such as Newcastle's 
and psittacosis, can threaten human healtli, poultiy, and native bird species. 

In conclusion, the WBCA has made the United States a leader woridwide in efforts to 
conserve wild exotic bird species. No longer do we have the shameful distinction of being the 
largest consumer of the world's most tfireatened birds for pets. 



71 



Debate Surrounding the WBCA 

At this, its three year anniversary, the United States Wild Bird Conservation Act is still not 
fully implemented through federal regulations. The process has been a long one, and not 
without complications. Because regulations for the approval of foreign breeding facilities as 
qualifying facilities have not been promulgated, some individuals are interpreting the lack of 
final regulations as a "virtual ban" under the Act on the importation of any bird for any reason. 
The prevalence of such misinformation within the avicultural community, coupled with 
intentional dissemination of fraudulent literature on the WBCA, has created an atmosphere of 
antagonism. False claims, created to invoke hostility towards the Act, describe how the 
implementing regulations for the WBCA are being used to ensure the ultimate destruction of 
American aviculture. 

It is important to note that, originally, groups such as The HSUS supported the Wild Bird 
Protection Act which called for an immediate ban on all wild exotic bird imports into the 
United States. During negotiations on the WBCA, we relinquished three significant measures 
of protection for wild birds that were contained in our original legislation: 1) An immediate 
ban on all wild bird imports; 2) Prohibition on the import of non-CITES listed species and; 3) 
Exceptions to the import ban (we opposed the importation of all wild birds for commercial 
trade). Essentially, through compromise, we were forced to sacrifice the lives of tens of 
thousands of wild birds not listed on CITES which continue to be captured and imported into 
the United States every year. 

Furthermore, as participants in the compromise process which resulted in the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act, we have remained faithful to our agreement of support for the Act and are 
not viewing the reauthorization process as an opportunity to drag everyone back to the table in 
attempts to further our earlier efforts for greater import restrictions. 

We find it particularly ironic that the group of individuals-aviculturists-- who are most likely to 
profit from the end to the commercial trade in imported wild birds are those who are most 
opposed to the WBCA. Their claims that the WBCA will cause the collapse of American 
aviculture or harm the American pet industry are simply untrue. Bans on the sale of wild birds 
were adopted by both New York and New Jersey in 1984 and 1991, respectively. A survey 
revealed that New York's Wild Bird Act has benefitted not only wild birds, but also the state's 
captive breeding industry, pet stores and bird owners.'" In New Jersey, consumer response to 
the ban on the sale of wild-caught birds and the emphasis on captive-breeding is 
overwhelmingly favorable." 

Since implementation of the Wild Bird Conservation Act, gross retail sales of pet birds and pet 
bird products have almost doubled. These findings demonstrate that the WBCA is not having 
detrimental impact on United States aviculture or the American pet trade, but rather a positive 
one. 



'" Connor, Bob. Testimony on the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 before House Subcommittees on 
Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment and Trade. 16 June 1992. 

" Herrighty, Lawrence, letter to Susan Russell, 16 August 1995. 

7 



72 



Importation of Captive-Bred Birds Under the WBCA 

The WBCA allows the import of foreign captive-bred birds. One avenue for importing such 
birds is through the approval of foreign qualifying facilities. Final regulations delineating the 
requirements for the approval of foreign qualifying facilities have not yet been finalized. 
Consequently, this section of the Act remains inactivated. This does not mean, as many have 
mistakenly assumed, that the WBCA bans the importation of captive-bred birds into the 
United States and should therefore be modified to facilitate importation of these birds, but 
rather that the release of the final regulations needs to be hastened. 

We acknowledge the frustration of having to wait for final regulations to be issued. In 1988, 
The HSUS, Animal Welfare Institute and nine other animal protection organizations forced 
the FWS into court over a delay in the issuance of regulations implementing portions of the 
Lacey Act Amendments of 1981. The Final Rule was eventually issued in 1992, eleven years 
after Congress instructed the FWS to the promulgate regulations. 

Despite the delay in issuing these regulations, captive-bred birds are entering the United States 
through other avenues provided by the WBCA. Since the implementation of this Act, United 
States imports of captive-bred exotic birds have remained stable, at approximately 50,000 birds 
annually. Foreign captive-bred birds can be, and have been, imported under WBCA 
cooperative breeding program exemptions. In addition, species for which there is no trade in 
wild individuals are included on an "approved list" and can be imported without a WBCA 
permit. Currently, there are more than 50 species of exotic birds on this list, including those 
captive-bred birds that are most commonly imported for the United States. 

Requirements contained in the WBCA for the approval of foreign captive breeding facilities 
should not be weakened in any way. Without adequate regulations to ensure that captive -bred 
imports were truly bred-in-captivity, wild birds could be laundered easily into the United States 
pet trade. Operation Renegade, a long-term undercover operation of the FWS Division of 
Law Enforcement documents the ease of laundering wild birds as captive bred. Individuals are 
awaiting sentencing for one such scheme, which involved smuggling eggs of highly endangered 
Australian cockatoos into the United States to sell what amounted to more than one million 
dollars worth of birds under the claim that they were captive bred. In another case, these same 
endangered Australian birds were being smuggled into New Zealand, then exported into the 
United States and other countries with export permits stating they were captive-bred. 

Essentially, actions to exempt captive -bred birds from the Act or weaken requirements would 
sanction the importation of wild, threatened and/or legally protected bird species into the 
United States. Without regulation under the WBCA, any CITES-listed bird could be imported 
simply with an accompanying export permit stating that the bird was bred-in-captivify. A 
number of foreign nations have a history of providing "legal" export documents for tens of 
thousands of illegally traded birds. One of the largest commercial importers of wild birds 
(prior to the WBCA) is now in prison for smuggling thousands of protected wild birds, worth 
millions of dollars, into the legal commercial bird trade. He simply bribed foreign officials to 
provide the required CITES export documents. High profits from illegal trade serve as a 
powerful incentive for laundering wild birds as captive-bred. 



73 



There is currently no marking technique which, when used alone, can guarantee the legitimacy 
of an exotic bird. Closed, seamless bands can be useful in identifying whether a bird was 
hatched in captivity, particularly at the state level, but if federal requirements for imported 
captive-bred birds were limited to banding, it would merely encourage exporting countries to 
band young, wild birds in commercial quantities for easy access to the United States market. 

To disguise the illegal origin of birds smuggled into the United States from Mexico, seamless 
leg bands are sometimes placed on young wild birds.'' Bird dealers in Africa are already in 
possession of closed bands to place on wild birds to launder them as having been raised-in- 
captivity." The recent indictment of the famous aviculturist Tony Silva revealed long-term 
smuggling activities which involved some of the most endangered birds in the world. One of 
his proteges stated that Silva instructed him on how to disguise birds born in the wild as birds 
bred in the United States. To mask the identity of exotic wild birds, Silva allegedly forced 
closed bands onto the legs of grown wild birds. 

The use of micro-chips to mark birds is useful, but only when accompanied by appropriate 
paper work. Because implants can be put in a bird at any time or can be taken from a dead 
bird and used again, there are opportunities for abuse. DNA analysis is essentially the only 
reliable method for verifying the parental origin of an exotic bird, but according to aviculturists, 
this method is cost prohibitive. 

Because there is no practical method of marking, which when used alone, can distinguish a 
legitimately captive-bred bird from one captured in the wild, it is essential that the WBCA 
require verification the origin of captive-bred birds imported into the United States. Requiring 
foreign captive-breeding operations to meet certain standards of approval before they can 
export particular species of captive -bred birds into the United States, reduces the likelihood of 
illegalities. 



Regulation of the Domestic Captive-Breeding Industry 

Section 114 of the WBCA stipulates that within two years after the enactment of the WBCA, 
the Secretary of Interior will review opportunities for voluntary programs for labeling exotic 
birds and certifying exotic bird breeding facilities and retail outlets. Pursuant to this request, 
the FWS convened a Public Meeting last April to review existing programs of this nature. The 
meeting was well attended, particularly by aviculturists, who provided statements on existing 
marking programs within the aviculture community. It was apparent that the majority of 
aviculturists in attendance had been misinformed about the intent of the meeting. Repeatedly, 
the FWS had to explain that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss "voluntary", not 
mandatory, programs for marking. Some bird breeders mistakenly believed that if aviculture 
does not come up with a satisfactory way to regulate itself through the institution of voluntary 
programs for labeling exotic birds, then the government will intervene and impose such 
regulations. 



" Micheis. Ann. Conversation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Joe Ramos. September 1995. 
" Knights. Peter. 1993. Investigation of the Trade in African Grey Parrots. EIA. 

9 



74 



Section 115 of the Act does not require marking and recordkeeping of all birds in captivity, 
rather it provides the Secretary of the Interior with the option of requiring marking and 
recordkeeping of 1) exotic birds imported into the United States after enactment and; 2) birds 
offered for sale of species subject to a high level of illegal trade (these are not species that are 
commonly bred-in-captivity). During 1992 Congressional hearings on the exotic bird 
legislation, the concept of marking all birds imported into the United States received broad 
support, including that of Gary Lilienthal, who stated on behalf of the AFA that "they are not 
at all opposed to the Secretary of the Interior having authorization to promulgate regulations 
to control importation, after enactment, of birds through any marking that's necessary on birds 
imported post-enactment."'* 

Presently, some aviculturists argue that costs associated with banding and recordkeeping would 
inhibit aviculture and put bird breeders out of business. Considering that closed bands can 
cost as little as forty cents each, it is unlikely that marking criteria would put aviculturists out 
of business. Since 1984, the New York Wild Bird Act has required the marking of all exotic 
birds for sale in the state. Since the law was implemented, the state has experienced a boom in 
captive-breeding. 

It is essential that Section 115 remain intact so the Secretary of the Interior has the authority 
to require marking as a tactic to help curtail smuggling of particular species. The scope of any 
mandatory marking would be limited to the most commonly smuggled species. Each year, up 
to 150,000 parrots are smuggled from Mexico into the United States." This illegal trade 
greatly endangers parrot populations throughout Mexico and Central America. In a field study 
of the reproduction of yellow-naped amazon parrots in Guatemala, not one chick fledged 
successfully for two consecutive years because they were all taken for the illegal trade." 
According to Ernesto Enkerlin, a researcher in Monterrey, smuggling in Mexico has reduced 
red-crowned parrot populations by 80 percent and yellow-headed parrot populations by 90 
percent in the past 20 years." 

The availability of cheap smuggled birds in the United States undermines efforts to market 
legal captive-bred birds. In addition, since smuggled birds are not processed through the 
United States Department of Agriculture quarantine system for Newcastle's disease, they pose 
a significant threat to the American poultry industry and to captive exotic birds. Though 
marking alone cannot ensure the legality of a bird, in coordination with record-keeping, it can 
help identify those birds for sale that have not been produced by breeders and are, therefore, 
illegal. 



''' Lilienthal, Gary. Testimony of the American Federation of Aviculture to a Joint Hearing of the U.S. 
House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment and 
Subcommittee on Trade. 16 June 1992. 

" Wildlife Conservation International. "The Wild Bird Trade: When a Bird in the Hand Means None 
in the Bush." Wildlife Conservation International. New York Zoological Society: 1992. 

" Followiil, Dave. "Raiders of the Rain Forest - The Tragedy of Smuggling." AFA Watchbird. 
July /August 1995. 

" Hancock. Lee. "Bird Smuggling Called Big Border Problem." Dallas Morning News. 

10 



75 



Exotic wild birds may start reentering the United States market as the FWS begins approving 
foreign countries' sustainable use management plans. United States aviculturists must take 
advantage of this time to begin promoting the purchase of captive-bred, instead of wild-caught 
birds. Labeling, recordkeeping, and informing the public about the various methods of labeling 
is an integral part of this effort and will help aviculturists to establish themselves as a source of 
quality birds. 

Cooperative Breeding Programs 

Permits for exemptions under the WBCA can be issued by the FWS in accordance with Section 
112 to allow for the importation of otherwise prohibited species, if the FWS has determined 
that the importation will not threaten the species' survival. In order to apply for a permit, 
aviculturists must be part of a cooperative breeding program. Some aviculturists mistakenly 
believe that the approval requirements for such programs are impossible to meet and must be 
weakened substantially. 

Exemptions have been granted under this section of the WBCA. However, only eleven 
applications for the approval of cooperative breeding programs have been submitted to the 
FWS. Of the eleven, five have been approved, four are pending, one was abandoned and one 
rejected. In some cases, applicants did not submit all of the required information. 
Consequently, the review process was delayed because the FWS had to wait until the remaining 
information was submitted before proceeding. Since only eleven aviculturists have submitted 
applications for the approval of cooperative breeding programs, it is difficult to understand 
how they can be critical of the process. 

Aviculturists have made erroneous claims that the application process for cooperative breeding 
exemptions are simply too involved and that is why only eleven applications for the approval of 
such programs have been submitted. However, the majority of the requirements are measures 
that aviculturists should already be undertaking, if they intend to maintain healthy captive 
populations. Managing for genetic diversity necessitates a level of cooperation among 
aviculturists that has never been present before. Hesitancy or an unwillingness to cooperate 
and form species-specific breeding groups will eliminate any hope of achieving sound genetic 
management of captive-species. 

Aviculturists must be willing to share the guardianship of captive birds for breeding purposes 
and to organize studbooks. They should continually be on the watch for problems that can 
threaten the genetic integrity of captive populations. Furthermore, if they intend to manage 
for genetic diversity, then they need to label birds and maintain records in order to identify 
individual .specimens and their pedigrees." The aviculture community must work 
collaboratively and be willing to communicate about the availability of birds for breeding. 



Given the vast number of birds that are now in captivity, it is time for aviculturists to move on 
and establish genetically well-managed breeding programs." Instead of depending on exotic 



Toft. Caiherine. 1992. "Genetics of Captive Propagation (Pans I and II)." BIRDWORLD. 
Toft. Catherine. 1992. "Genetics of Captive Propagation (Parts I and II)." BIRDWORLD. 

11 



76 



wild imports to supplement captive birds, aviculturists must adjust their practices towards the 
goal of establishing self-sustaining captive populations. All species of commercial importance 
are already represented in sufficient numbers in captivity to constitute a viable gene pool.'^ 
The majority of bird species that are not available to aviculturists for captive breeding are either 
critically endangered and already protected by international law, or prohibited from trade in 
their country of origin. 

Some aviculturists are mistakenly lead to believe that they are conserving exotic wild birds by 
importing them from their countries of origin, before they suffer from habitat destruction or 
other pressures, such as hunting. They might truly believe that they are "saving" species by 
maintaining them in captivity for future reintroduction and that the WBCA is inhibiting their 
ability to do so by restricting the importation of wild birds for breeding purposes. However, 
claims of this nature are most often a thinly-veiled rationalization for a personal obsession to 
own an endangered species or a kind rarely found in captivity. 

The WBCA recognizes that American aviculturists have a valuable role to play in the 
conservation of exotic wild bird species, in terms of their ability to meet consumers' demand for 
pet birds through captive breeding. However, attempts to use captive-breeding, with the 
eventual goal of reintroduction. as a conservation technique, in the absence of appropriate in- 
situ conservation efforts, actually can be detrimental to wild populations. 



Conclusion 

Through the enactment of the WBCA, the United States is working successfully to address the 
problems associated with the trade in exotic wild birds. By greatly reducing imports of wild 
birds for the American pet market, the WBCA has removed a significant threat to wild exotic 
bird populations. The United States is now a leader in worldwide efforts to improve the status 
of exotic wild birds species. Meanwhile, consumers' demand for pet birds are being fulfilled 
through captive breeding, and the United States exotic pet bird market is flourishing. Since the 
passage of the WBCA domestic retail sales of birds and bird-related products have soared. 

The WBCA does not infringe upon the ability of United States aviculturists to breed birds. The 
importation of exotic captive -bred birds is subject to regulation because, if we are truly 
interested in protecting wild bird populations from trade, we must ensure that these imports are 
genuinely captive-bred. As history has shown, we cannot depend on the word of exporters, 
importers, or a foreign governments that a bird is captive bred. The profits to be gained by 
illegal trade are simply too great. 

Promoting the conservation of exotic birds in the wild is a goal that most of us share. The 
United States Wild Bird Conservation Act is a valuable tool for accomplishing this goal. Let's 
not jeopardize the continued success of this unique legislation. We urge the Members of the 
Subcommittee to support the reauthorization of the Wild Bird Conservation Act without 
weakening amendments. 



^ Allen.C. M., &K. A. Johnson. 1991. Psitticine Captive Breeding Survey-A Survey of Private Aviculture 
in the United States. World Wildlife Fund U.S., Washington. D.C. 

12 



77 



TESTIMONY FROM 



THE 



AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION, 



THE ORNITHOLOGICAL COUNCIL 



AND 



THE ASSOCL^TION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 



ON THE 



REA UTHORTZA TION OF THE 



EXOTIC WED BIRD CONSERVATION ACT OF 1992 



Prepared by: 



Dr. Steven R. Beissinger, Associate Professor of Ecology & Conservation 
Biology and Curator of Ornithology, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 
Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511. 
Phone: (203)432-5120; Fax: (203)432-5942. 



28 September 1995 



78 



Executive Summary: 

Professional ornithologists strongly support the reauthorization of the Exotic Wild Bird 
Conservation Act of 1992. Until the passage of the act, wild bird populations were being 
decimated as a result of importation into the United States and other countries. International 
trade threatens many groups of birds, but principal problems have been seen with parrots, 
which are unable to sustain much pressure on wild populations. International regulations have 
been unable to control this multi-million dollar trade, which increasingly threatens the existence 
of wild bird f)opulations and entire species. Captive breeding is the major source of individuals 
in trade for only a handful of bird species. Prior passage of the act, the numbers of wild- 
caught live exotic birds imported into the United States for commercial activities were 
unsustainable and indefensible. The sale of these wild-caught birds had to be stopped and the 
Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act accon^lished this goal in an effective manner. 

Captive breeding of birds can serve a variety of values (exhibit, pets, research, 
conservation education, and fund-raising pruposes), but birds in captivity have very limited 
utility for recovering endangered species in the wild. To recover endangered species, birds 
must: (1) be bred in captivity for reintroduction at the earliest possible opportunity; (2) kept in 
single species facilities in countries of origin to minimize disease risks; (3) be kept from 
becoming tame or domesticated, which occurs very rapidly in captivity; (4) be part of 
conservation programs that are fully integrated with field efforts to conserve habitats and 
correct limiting factors causing population decline. Aviculturists have been very reluctant to 
meet these requirments. Their birds are kept in multispecies facilites so are high disease risks 
to reintroduce, and they are selected to become domesticated to be good companion animals. 
Birds produced by private or commercial aviculture are hardly ever suitable for reintroduction to 
the wild. 

Critics of the Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act claim that the decrease in the 
importation of wild birds makes it difficult to maintain the genetic diversity of their captive 
populations. Only limited genetic diversity is required for maintaining permanent captive 
populations not used for reintroduction to the wild (i.e. avicultural collections). All species of 
commercial importance are already represented in sufficient numbers in captivity to constitute a 
viable gene pool under active, cooperative management (50-75 birds per species). Species 
with fewer individuals in captivity are obviously not of commercial importance. 

The Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act has good provisions to encourage and control 
sustainable use. But before strong hopes are placed in sustained harvesting as a conservation 
strategy, several demonstration projects must be conducted to determine the feasibility and 
scale of harvesting. In the face of pressures from current unsustainable harvesting, most 
attempts at sustainable harvesting are likely to fail. Obtaining the biological and sociological 
data to conduct a sustainable trade will require investments of time and money, but trade 
should not have been allowed in the first place without this information. 

It is premature to suggest many improvements to an act which is so recent that many of 
its rules and regulations have yet to be promulgated. However, there are two suggestions that 
we would make: (1) The most pressing need is to allocate money to the fund that was created 
by the act for studies needed to support and enforce the act (e.g., investigations of the 
potential of sustainable harvesting, or the development of genetic markers to monitor the birds 
from captive breeding programs). Funding is also needed to ensure the proper enforcment of 
this legislation and to deter smuggling; and (2) Ten bird families were exempt from this act due 
to political and not biological reasons, and this exception should be eliminated. 



79 



Introduction 

I am a professor of ecology and conservation biology at Yale University, and curator of 
ornithology at the Peabody Museum. I have conducted field studies and published extensively 
on the biology and conservation of birds throughout the United States, Latin America, and the 
Carribean for the past 20 years. In particular, I am a recognized authority on avian population 
ecology, endangered species conservation, parrot and raptor biology, and the exploitation of and 
international trade in birds. 

I testify today on behalf of eight organizations of scientists who study birds. The 
American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) is the largest and oldest organization of professional 
ornithologists in the United States. Representing over 4500 scientists from each of the United 
States and from 66 countries around the world, the organization is dedicated to the study of birds 
and their conservation. The Ornithological Council consists of the AOU and six other 
professional ornithological societies of North America (the Association of Field Ornithologists, 
Colonial Waterbird Society, Cooper Ornithological Society, Pacific Seabird Group, Raptor 
Research Foundation, and Wilson Ornithological Society). The Association for Parrot 
Conservation (APC) rq)resents more than 100 scientists from the United States, Latin America, 
the Carribbean, Africa. Europe, and Australia concerned with the scientific study and 
conservation of parrots. Together, these groups conqjrise the vast majority of professional 
scientists who study birds. 

These professional societies have thoroughly investigated the scientific basis for the 
international trade in wild and captive-reared birds. In 1990 the AOU formed a subcommittee of 
five distinguished ornithologists concerned with bird trade issues representing academic 
ornithologists, conservationists, zoo biologists, and museum curators. The charge of this 
subcommittee was to review the problems associated with the bird trade and to make 
recommendations for effective ways of dealing with the detrimental influences of trade on wild 
bird populations. Its report is appended to this testimony. Likewise, APC held a symposium in 
June 1994, and developed policy statements on the wild bird trade and on the use of captive 
breeding in conservation. These statements are also appended to this testimony. 

Together, these documents and the scientific literature I will discuss represent a 
concensus of current scientific opinion on the wild bird trade, and the role of captive breeding 
and sustainable harvesting in avian conservation. They contain important conclusions that 
pertain to the reauthorization of the Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act that I will now 
summarize. 



The Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act Needs to Be Reauthorized 

Until the passage of the Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992, wild bird 
populations were being decimated as a result of importation into the United States and other 
countries. The United States had represented the largest market for an international trade in wild 
birds that exceeds two million individuals annually (Iiiskipp 1990). For example, nearly two 
million birds from 85 countries were legally imported into the United States between 1986 and 
1988 (Nilsson 1990). Forty-three percent of these birds were parrots, while about 54% were 
fmches (Estrildidae, Fringillidae, and others) primarily from Africa. The remaining 3% 
represented 77 different families of birds. The countries exporting the most birds to the United 
States were Senegal, Tanzania, and Argentina. 



80 



Parrots represent the largest monetary share of commerce. The United States accounted 
for 47% of all parrots sold internationally, and perhaps 80% of the trade in Neotropical parrots, 
followed by the European Economic Community and Japan (Thomsen and Mulliken 1992). 
Approximately 1.8 million Neotropical psittacines, nearly all captured from the wild, were 
legally exported for trade from 1982 to 1988 (Thomsen and Mulliken 199J0- The actual numbers 
taken from the wild for commercial activities were probably several times as large, when internal 
trade, illegal export (e.g., 150,(XX) parrots per year smuggled through Mexico; Thomsen and 
Hemley 1987), and high mortality rates of birds harvested from the wild (e.g., 60% die before 
exportation in Mexico; Ramos and liiigo 1985) are considered. These data led Thomsen and 
Mulliken (1992) to estimate that the actual numbers of wild Neotropical psittacines harvested for 
international trade between 1982 and 1988 may have been almost four million birds. The retail 
monetary value of the 1.8 million parrots legally exported during this period has been estimated 
at $1.6 billion (Thomsen and Brautigam 1991). 

This multi-million dollar trade increasingly threatens the existence of wild bird 
populations and even entire species. Although nearly all exporting countries are members of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES), and many exporting 
countries have adopted trade regulations, the domestic and international laws which are supposed 
to ensure that trapping for trade does not result in species declines have been largely ineffective 
(Thomsen and Mulliken 1992). Together, trade and habitat destruction now clearly represent the 
two major conservation problems afflicting these and many other kinds of birds worldwide. 

International trade threatens many groups of birds, but principal problems have been seen 
with parrots, which as a group are unable to sustain much pressure on wild populations (Inskipp 
et al. 1988). Collar and Juniper (1992) concluded that 42 of approximately 140 species of 
Neotropical parrots are currently at risk of extinction. For 22 of these species, trade is a major 
cause of endangerment. Examples of parrots now critically threatened by trade include the 
Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), the 
Tucuman Amazon {Amazona tucumana), and the Red-crowned Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis) 
(Collar and Juniper 1992). 

Although parrots are most threatened by trade, other birds are also affected (Nilsson 
1989). Among nonpsittacines threatened by trade are Toucan Barbels (Semnornis 
ramphastinus). Red Siskins {Spinus cucullatus), Rothschild's Starlings (Leucopsar rothschildi). 
Hill Mynahs {Gracula religiosa), Sumba Hombills (Rhyticeros everetti). White-necked 
Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) . Yellow Cardinals (Gubernatrix cristata). Yellow- 
faced Siskins {Carduelis yarrellii). Long-wattled Umbrellabirds (Cephalopterus penduliger), 
Gumey's Pittas {Pitta gurneyi), Buffy-throated Seedeaters (Sporophila frontalis), Marsh 
Seedeaters (5. palustris). Seven-colored Tanagers (Tangara fastuosa), and Laughing Thrushes 
{Garrulax spp.). 

Little information is available on how trade is affecting most nonendangered species. 
However, if the Blue-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) is any indication, trade is probably 
having a strong effect even on many common species. Over 45,000 Blue-fronted Amazons were 
exported from Argentina between 1982 and 1986. It is virtually inconceivable that this species 
can continue to sustain such harvest levels much longer, as evidenced by its disappearance from 
many areas of its range (Beissinger and Bucher 1992). 

Trade is likely to be as threatening to most parrots as habitat destruction, because many 
parrots are habitat generalists. This is exemplified by the large number of parrot species that 
have been introduced, as a result of the pet trade, and have become established in urban habitats 
around the world. In addition, the harvest of nestlings of hole-nesting species often involves 



81 



destruction of nest trees, posing a fiirther stress on wild populations limited by nest availability. 

Captive breeding is the major source of individuals in trade for only a handful of bird 
species — Budgerigars {Melopsittacus uruMatus), Cockatiels {Nymphicus hollandicus). Canaries 
(Serinus canaria), Zebn and Bengalese Finches (Amandava subflava and Lonchura domestica), 
most Agapomis lovebirds, several species of cockatoos (Cacatua), and a number of Australian 
finches (e.g., Chloebia gouldiae, Poephila cinaa, Poephila acuticauda). For most other birds, 
essentially all individuals in trade come directly from wild sources, either trapped as free-flying 
adults or taken as nestlings. 

The importation of live exotic birds should be sustainable. It should not pose risks for 
wild populations of species that are imported. There is no justification for commercial endeavors 
to result in the extinction in the wild of a species. On the basis of the information presented 
above, the numbers cf wild-caught live exotic birds imported into the United States for 
commercial activities before the passage of the act were unsustainable and indefensible. The 
sale of these wild-caught birds had to be stopped so that species would not be driven to 
extinction. Most countriesw with species exploited for international trade acknowledged the 
current crisis of unsustainable use by simply prohibiting all trade in wild-caught birds. 

The Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act accomplished this goal in an effective manner, 
yet still encouraged the sustainable use and captive breeding of species. The need for this act 
remains today, and choosing not to reauthorize it would guarantee a return to the situation that 
persisted before 1992 which threatened many bird species. Populations of most species have 
been severely affected by decades of overharvesting, and many of these species reproduce very 
slowly. It will require several generations for populations of most species to recover. Many of 
the most desirable birds in the trade are long-lived and generation times probably exceed 10 
years. Thus, the goals of this act will probably not be reached for at least 20 years. 

The Legitimate Role of Captive Breeding in Recovering Endangered Birds 

Captive breeding of birds can serve a variety of values. In particular, captive breeding 
can provide birds for exhibit, pets, conservation education, and fund-raising pruposes. Captive 
populations can be ao important source for fundamental biological research and training. While 
all are potentially vahiable contributions of captive birds, they are only indirectly related to 
recovering endangered populations of wild species. Captive breeding for other purposes should 
not be confused with captive breeding for recovering endangered species, which requires very 
different activities and precautions. 

To recover endangered species, birds must be bred in captivity for release in the wild 
(reintroduction) at the earliest possible opportunity. Every precaution must be taken to avoid 
placing species in close proximity to minimize disease risks by placing birds in single species 
facilities. Ideally, these facilities should be within the native range of the species to minimize 
exposure to (and introduction of) exotic diseases (to the wild populations). Special care must 
be taken to keep the birds from becoming tame or domesticated because they are less likely to 
survive when reintroduced. Such domestification proceeds very rapidly in captivity. Also, 
captive breeding programs must be fully integrated with field conservation efforts to preserve 
habitats and correct the factors that originally caused the population decline. Since these are 
exotic birds, countries in their native range should be involved in their captive breeding and 
reintroduction. 



82 



Aviculturists committed to conservation could play a role in future reintroduction 
programs if adequate control over disease threats and domestication can be achieved, and the 
ownership and control of birds is given up to a central authority. To date, aviculturists have been 
very reluctant to meet these requirments. Their birds are usually kept in multispecies facilites in 
close proximity to many other species so are high disease risks to reintroduce to the wild. 
Furthermore, their birds are selected to become domesticated to be good companion animals. 

In general, birds in captivity have very limited utility for recovering their wild 
counterparts. This conclusion has been reached by scientists involved in some of the most 
intensive captive breeding programs for endangered species recovery (Snyder et al. in press). 
While captive breeding has served an important role in the recovery of a few select species, it's 
potential for recovering endangered populations is severely limited by: (1) difficulties in 
breeding certain species in captivity; (2) difficulties in successfully reintroducing many species 
to the wild; (3) the high costs of captive breeding facilities and personnel; (4) the risks of 
introducing exotic diseases, which are common in captive environments, to the wild; (5) 
progressive domestification and loss of genetic diversity in captivity which makes animals 
unsuitable for reintroduction; (6) problems in ensuring continuity of captive breeding programs 
for the decade or more it may require for successful reintroduction; and (7) the premptions of 
other, better techniques that could conserve endangered species in the wild. Details about these 
limitations can be found in the appended APC policy statement on captive breeding. 

Thus, captive breeding of exotic birds as a conservation strategy should be pursued only 
as a last resort, and only as part of internationally recognized and structured programs . The 
promotion of captive breeding as conservation by aviculturists is sometimes a rationalization for 
keeping exotic birds in captivity in private collections. Such an excuse was used by convicted 
cockatoo smugglers this past summer to justify their illegal activities. 

Captive Breeders Do Not Need Continued Access to Wild Stocks 

Critics of the Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act claim that the decrease in the 
importation of wild birds makes it difficult to maintain the genetic diversity of their captive 
populations. This is a misconception, as limited genetic diversity is required for maintaining 
permanent captive populations not used for reintroduction to the wild (i.e. avicultural 
collections). In fact, all species of commercial importance are already represented in sufficient 
numbers in captivity to constitute a viable gene pool under active, cooperative management (50- 
75 birds per species). Species with fewer irulividuals in captivity are obviously not of 
commercial importance. In other words, if aviculturists would only be willing to manage their 
gene pools by moving birds among their private collections, they could take advantage of the 
more than sufficient genetic diversity that is already present in maintaining their captive 
populations. 

For aviculture arui captive breeding of exotic species to decrease pressure on wild 
populations and result in conservation, captive breeding must become self-sustaining. In other 
words, captive breeding must be conducted without requiring the continued importation of wild- 
caught birds. Instead of supplementing captive birds with wild imports, private aviculturists 
must begin to adjust their practices toward the goal of self-sustaining captive populations, 
including better coordination of studbooks to maintain genetically viable captive gene pools. 
Organizing the exchange of birds to become genetically self-sufficient has been hampered by the 
secretive nature of the aviculture community and by receiving financial support from businesses 
that benefit directly from the continued importation of wild-caught birds. 



83 



Sustainable Harvesting is Goal Worth Pursuing Cautiously 

If importation of wild birds is to continue, it must be done on a sustainable basis, that is it 
must be implemented in such a way that it does not pose threats to wild populations. Important 
biological information is needede to determine what levels of harvest would be sustainable 
(Beissinger and Bucher 1992). This information has not been gathered for any species in the 
trade, most export quotas are not based on scientific data and quotas for most countries need to 
be lowered drastically. Biological data suggest that there is a good potential to harvest some 
parrots in a sustainable manner through habitat management operations (Beissinger and Bucher 
1992), although no "ranching" projects with free-flying birds have been attempted to date. 
Careful evaluations of the biological, social, and economic problems of implementing harvest 
programs must be conducted. 

When implemented properly and conservatively, however, sustainable harvesting could 
provide advantages for conservationists, aviculturists, the pet industry, and local peoples . 
Conservationists could gain by having healthy populations of wild parrots, and by transmitting 
economic value to habitats to help conserve them in their natural states. For example, if parrots 
can be sustainably harvested from tropical rain forests, this would provide another commodity 
which might help to inake extractive reserves more economically valuable than forest land 
cleared for timber harvest or cattle production. Sustained harvesting of many bird species will 
require that substantial areas of land be maintained as mature forest. Aviculture and the pet 
industry would have a steady but small inflow of legally imported birds already conditioned to 
captivity. Finally, the profits from these programs could be directed to the local people in need 
of ways to support themselves, and the economy of nations that are trying to develop. Currently, 
local people receive hardly any firumcial benefit compared to the importers who have become 
wealthy from this trade. 

Realizing the benefits of trade requires a degree of control over harvesting that is 
difficult arui expensive to achieve. Solving the biological problems associated with sustained 
harvest of birds may be easier than solving some of the sociaJ and political problems. Particular 
problems for sustainable harvesting programs are posed by the illegal laundering of birds by 
personnel in these programs, poaching of birds by people outside of these program, the 
development of reliable marking systems to identify legal birds, and the temptation to 
overharvest to make more profit. Without strong controls over harvesting programs, attempts at 
sustained harvesting coidd increase conservation problems rather than solve them. 

The Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act has good provisions to encourage and control 
sustainable use. But before strong hopes are placed in sustained harvesting as a conservation 
strategy, several demonstration projects must be conducted to determine the feasibility and scale 
of harvesting. Experimental programs of sustained harvesting could be run to find solutions to 
the problems of illegal laundering of birds, poaching, reliable marking systems, and 
overharvesting. In the face of pressures from current unsustainable harvesting, most attempts at 
sustainable harvesting are likely to fail. Obtaining the biological and sociological data to 
conduct a sustainable trade will require investments of time and money, but trade should not 
have been allowed in the first place without this information. 

Improvements Needed To the Act 

It is premature to suggest many improvements to an act which is so recent that many of 
its rules and regulations have yet to be promulgated. However, there are two suggestions that we 



84 



would make. 

The most pressing i^ed is to allocate money to the fund that was created by the act. This 
fiind is supposed to be useiyKe kinds of programs and studies needed to support and enforce the 
act (e.g., investigations of the potential of sustainable harvesting, or the development of genetic 
markers to monitor the birds from captive breeding programs). Funding is also needed to ensure 
the proper enforcment of this legislation and to deter smuggling. 

Finally, ten bird families were exempt from this act due to political and not biological 
reasons, and this exception should be eliminated. The only reason these families were exempted 
from this legislation was because of pressure from special interest groups - a few game bird 
breeders tied up the telephones of a congressional aide. 

Excluding these so called "game birds" from this legislation actually reinforced a market 
for them. Traders no longer able to export species they have traded for years will switch to these 
species, which up until now have primarily been captive-bred. And they will find a market for 
wild birds in zoos, breeders, and private collections. 

Only a handful of the species in these families are covered by the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA) or CITES. Many of the rest are thought to be declining in the wild. For example. 
Oscillated Turkeys are not on CITES, nor are they listed as endangered species, but they are 
declining rapidly. They are bred in captivity, but they are also being taken from the wild. 
Similarly, this legislation endorses greater importations of Black-fronted Piping Guans from 
Argentina and Horned Guans from Guatemala. Both species are considered at risk of extinction 
by lUCN, but are not on CITES or listed under ESA and are imported by private breeders. 
Ptivate breeder are vying to import White-eared Pheasants from China, even though they are 
very rare in the wild, because the captive population in the U.S. suffers from inbreeding. The 
first Chinese importer of this species would make a killing! 

Excluding entire families from this bill to promote the conservation of exotic birds was 
simply inappropriate. It gives no impetus to develop programs to the manage genetic diversity 
of captive populations of these families, since wild stock will always be available, or to promote 
their sustainable use in the wild. The act fosters the mismanagement of birds that are not only 
threatened by habitat destruction, but are often hunted throughout their range by local peoples. 

Instead of excludii.g these families or others (e.g. raptors), let the U. S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service evaluate which species should be traded. Most game birds of economic importance are 
primarily captive-bred and would be placed on the "clean list" of captive-bred species anyway. 
In reality, no exemption for them is needed in the definition of exotic bird. 

Literature Cited 

Beissinger, S. R., and E. H. Bucher. 1992. Can parrots be conserved through sustainable 
harvesting? BioScience 42 : 1 64- 1 73 . 

Collar N. J., & P. Andrew. 1988. Birds to watch: the ICBP world checklist of threatened birds. 
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., ICBP Techn. Publ. No. 8. 

, & A. T. Juniper. 1992. Dimensions and causes of the parrot crisis. Pages 1-24 in New 



World parrots in crisis: solutions from conservation biology (S. R. Beissinger and N. F. R. 
Snyder, Eds.). Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press. 



85 



Inskipp, T. 1990. Numbers and value of wild birds in trade. Paper presented at the XX World 
Conference of the International Council for Bird Preservation, Hamilton, New Zealand. 

, S. Broad, & R. Luxmoore. 1988. Significant trade in wildlife: a review of selected 

species in CITES Appendix II Volume 3: Birds Cambridge, United Kingdom, World 
Conservation Union (lUCN). 

Nilsson, G. 1989. Importation of birds into the United States in 1985. Washington, D.C., 
Animal Welfare Institute. 

. 1990. Importation of birds into the United States in 1986 - 1988. Washington, DC, 

Animal Welfare Institute. 

Ramos, O. M, & E. Wigo. 1985. Commercializacion de psitacidos en Mexico. Memoria Primer 
Simposium Intemacional de Fauna Silvestre 

Snyder, N. F. R., S. R. Derrickson, S. R. Beissinger, J. W. Wiley, T. B. Smith, W. D. Toone, and 
B. Miller. In press. Limitations of captive breeding in endangered species recovery. 
Conservation Biology. 

Thomsen, J B., & A. Brautigam. 1991. Sustainable use of Neotropical parrots. Pages (in press) 
in Neotropical wildlife use and conservation (J. G. Robinson and K. H. Redford, Eds). 
Chicago, University of Chicago Press. 

, and T. A. Mulliken. 1992. Trade in neotropical psittacines and its conservation 

implications. Pages 221-239 in S. R. Beissinger and N. F. R. Snyder, eds. New World 
parrots in crisis: solutions from conservation biology. Smithsonian Institution Press, 
Washington. DC 

, & G. Hemley. 1987. Bird trade ... bird bans. Traffic(USA) 7(2&3): 1,21-24. 



86 



The Conservation Crisis 

International Trade in Live Exotic Birds Creates a 

Vast Movement That Must Be Halted 

Bird Trade Subcommittee of the AOU Conservation Committee' 



While we have heard warnings about a large de- 
cline in birds that breed in the Temperate Zone and 
winter in the tropics ("Neotropical migrants"), a "re- 
verse migration" of sorts is draining avian diversity 
from many tropical areas to the living rooms of de- 
veloped countries. In recent yejirs, the international 
trade in live exotic birds has grown greatly. Estimates 
of the current magnitude of the live trade in exotic 
birds range from two to "five million individuals an- 
nually (Inskipp 1990). These figures exclude the trade 
of 15.9 to 26.5 million swiftlet nests annually from 
southeast Asia (Lau and Melville 1990). 

Because the United States is presently the largest 
importer of exotic birds in the world (MuUiken and 
Thon^en 1990), the conservation of birds in other 
countries will be affected greatly by regulations of 
the United States concerning trade. The AOU Con- 
servation Committee formed a subcommittee of or- 
nithologists concerned with bird trade issues in July 
1990. The charge of this subcommittee was to review 
the problems associated with the bird trade and to 
make recommendations for effective ways to deal with 
the detrimental influences of trade on wild bird pop- 
ulations. 

Nearly two million birds from 85 countries were 
legally imported into the United States between 1986 
and 1988 (Nilsson 1990). Forty-three percent of these 
birds were parrots, while about 54% were finches (Es- 
trildidae, Fringillidae, and others) primarily from Af- 
rica. The remaining 3% represented n different fam- 
ilies. The countries exporting the most birds to the 
United States were Senegal, Tanzania, and Argentina. 
Accurate data on the scale of internal (nonexpert) 
trade in birds are not avaiilable, although this trade 
is also thought to be substantial in many countries. 

Parrots represent the largest monetary share of 
commerce. Forty-seven percent of all parrots sold in- 
ternationally, and perhaps 80% of all Neotropical par- 
rots, are sold in the United States. Most of the re- 
mainder is bought by members of the European 
Economic Community and Japan (Thomsen and Mul- 
liken 1991). Approximately 1.8 million Neotropical 
psittadnes, nearly all captured from the wild, were 
legally exported for trade from 1982 to 1988 (Thomsen 
and Mulliken 1991). Estimates of internal trade, parrot 
mortsJity before exportation, and the magnitude of 



' Steven R. Beissinger (Chair), Noel F. R. Snyder, 
Scott R. Derrickson, Frances C. James, and Scott M. 
Lanyon. 



illegal smuggling suggest that the number of birds 
removed from the wild would actually have been two 
or three times as great as the legal expoits Qames 1991, 
Thomsen and Mulliken 1991). 

This multimillion dollar trade increasingly threat- 
ens the existence of wild bird populations and even 
entire sf)ecies. Although nearly all exporting coun- 
tries are members of the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES), and 
many exporting countries have adopted trade regu- 
lations, the domestic and international laws that are 
supposed to ensure that trapping for trade does not 
result in species' declines have been largely ineffec- 
tive (Thomsen and Mulliken 1991). Trade now threat- 
ens the very existence of a number of these species, 
but principal problems have been seen with psitta- 
cines, which as a group are unable to sustain much 
pressure on wild populations (Inskipp et al. 1988). 
Collar and Juniper (1991) concluded that 42 of ap- 
proximately 140 species of Neotropical pjirrots are 
currently at risk of extinction. For 22 of these species, 
trade is a major cause of endangerment. Examples of 
parrots now critically threatened by trade include the 
Spix's Macaw {<Z\janoT;)s\Ha spixii), the Hyacinth Macaw 
{Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), and the Red-crowned 
Parrot (Amazona viridigenalts). Examples of other birds 
threatened by trade include Toucan Barbets {Semnor- 
nis ramphastinus). Red Siskins (Spmus cucullatus), and 
Yellow-faced Siskins {Carduelis yarrellii) (Nilsson 1989). 
Thus, trade and habitat destruction together now 
clearly represent the two major conservation prob- 
lems afflicting these and many other birds worldwide. 
Captive breeding is the major source of individuals 
in trade for only a relatively few sjjecies— Budgeri- 
gars (Melopsittacus undulatus). Cockatiels (Nymphicus 
hollandicus). Common Canaries (Serinus canaria). Zebra 
Waxbills {Amandava subflava), and Bengalese Finches 
(Lonchura domestica), most Agapomis lovebirds, several 
species of cockatoos (Cacalua), and a number of Aus- 
tralian finches (e.g. Chloebia gouldiae, Poephila cincta, 
and P. acuticauda). For most other species, essentially 
all individuals in trade come directly from the wild, 
either trapped as free-flying adults or taken as nest- 
lings. In many areas the harvest of nestlings of hole- 
nesting species involves destruction of nest trees. This 
poses a further stress on wild populations limited by 
nest availability (Beissinger and Bucher 1991). The 
Bird Trade Subcommittee believes strortgly that current 
numbers of wild-caught live exotic birds being imported into 
the United States for commercial activities are indefensible 



982 



The Auk 108: 982-984. October 1991 



87 



October 1991] 



Commentary 



983 



and that the sale of these wUd-caught birds must be stopped 
as soon as possible. 

A detailed report documenting our subcommittee's 
recommendations is in progress and will be com- 
pleted shortly for publication. In this report we de- 
velop seven principles for guiding an international 
trade in live exotic birds, based on the implications 
of an international bird trade on the conservation of 
wild bird populations in countries of origin as well 
as in North America. If there is to be an international 
bird trade, then the importation of live exotic birds 
should (1) be sustainable and not pose risks of ex- 
tinction for wild populations of species that are im- 
ported (several psittidnes are now gone from the wild, 
their last representatives sold to parrot collectors); (2) 
not pose significant risks of transmitting exotic dis- 
eases to native species, poultry, or other birds held 
for legitimate purposes such as exhibition or scientific 
study (current quarantine procedures have not stopped 
outbreaks of exotic diseases and improved procedures 
are needed); (3) not result in significant potentials for 
the establishment of feral populations (many already 
exist in our country having been imported as pets); 
(4) be consistent with U.S. policies concerning the 
use of native species (most commercial uses of native 
birds are prohibited and those that are cillowed re- 
quire carefully regvilated licenses, yet normative birds 
can be kept without permits); and (5) have regulations 
that are economically feasible, practically enforce- 
able, simple, and effective (regulations should not 
preclude the scientific study of birds in captivity, in- 
ternational recovery efforts, or public exhibition for 
educational purposes). Captive breeding of exotic 
species for aviculture should (6) be self-sustaining 
(i.e. without requiring the contiivued importation of 
wild-caught birds) and conducted humainely; jmd (7) 
be used as a conservation strategy only as a last resort, 
and only as part of internationally recognized and 
structured programs fully integrated with preserva- 
tion and reintroduction efforts (not a patnacea pro- 
moted by aviculturists as a rationalization for keeping 
exotic birds in captivity). The Bird Trade Subcommittee 
recommends that the importation of exotic live birds, in- 
cluding the importation of birds reared in captivity, should 
be conducted only if it can meet these seven general prin- 
ciples. 

In recognition of the pivotal role of the United 
States in affecting international trade and conserva- 
tion of birds, two bills to decrease the trade of wild- 
caught exotic birds were introduced to Congress in 

- Jiine. The bills were submitted by the Cooperative 
Working Group on the Bird Trade (H.R. 2541, F. 1218) 
and by the Defenders of WUdlife (H.R. 2540, F. 1219). 
The proposal of the Cooperative Working Group on 
the Bird Trade was drafted by nine organizations in- 
cluding representatives of the pet trade industry and 

^ aviculture, and a number of conservation organiza- 
tions including the National Audubon Society, the 
International Council for Bird Preservation, and the 



World Wildlife Fund VS., the coordinating organi- 
zation. The proposal by the Defenders of Wildlife is 
supported by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Hu- 
mane Society, the Sierra Qub, and a variety of other 
conservation groujjs. 

Both bills call for partial bans that would phase out 
the pet trade of wild-caught birds after varying lengths 
of time, but both bills allow the importation of cap- 
tive-bred and ranched birds for commercial activities 
and continue the importation of wild-caught birds by 
permit for commercial aviculture. Neither biU spe- 
cifically addresses quarantine regulations, the prob- 
lems of establishment of feral populations, nor ethical 
inconsistencies with U.S. poUdes concerning the use 
of native species. Both bills exdude dead birds (spec- 
imens) imported for sdentific purposes from regu- 
lations and permit live birds to be imported for sd- 
entific study. 

Prindpal differences between the two proposals 
concern the immediacy of the phase-out (five years 
for the Working Group and one year for Defenders), 
the limits for the import of wild-caught birds for cap- 
tive breeding (not addressed in the Working Group 
proposal vs. limited in the Defenders proposal), jind 
the cunount of detailed regulations governing each 
activity (large in the Working Group proposal and 
scant in the Defenders proposal). Both proposcils rei>- 
resent positions that proponents feel have a chance 
of being enaded into law. Both proposals could result 
in a decrease in the number of exotic birds imported 
into the United. States, but still provide avenues for 
many birds to be imported depending upon the na- 
ture of regulations and degree of enforcement. 

The subcommittee supports the passage of legis- 
lation to curb the importation of live exotic wild- 
caught birds. The organizations that have crafted the 
two bills being considered by Congress should be 
commended. Unfortunately, neither bill explidtly 
deals with all of the prindples that we believe are 
necessary to guide any trade in live exotic birds. The 
enactment of one of these bills could represent a pos- 
itive step towards the conservation of biological di- 
versity. But because these bills are incomplete, even 
if one is passed, we feel that additional legislation 
will be necessary to solve the bird trade problem. 

The Bird Trade Subcomxnittee feels it is important 
to state an optimal solution to the bird trade problem 
from the standpoint of conserving wild populations 
of birds, recognizing that this position may present 
political difficulties in enactment. The Bird Trade Sub- 
committee recommends a moratorium on the importation of 
vUd-caught birds to the United States for a fixed period. 
The two bills before Congress would both enad a 
partial moratorium, but even after the period of phase- 
out was completed, both bills would still allow birds 
to be imported for aviculture and private collections 
including threatened and declining spedes. We rec- 
ommend a moratorium because it is the most sensible 
stance in terms of its potentials for immediately re- 



88 



984 



Commentary 



[Auk, Vol. 108 



during the detrimental effects of the trade in exotic 
live birds on wild populations, its simplicity and ef- 
fectiveness of regulations, its ethical consistency in 
treatment of native and foreign wildlife, and its cost 
effectiveness. During a moratorium, experimental 
programs of captive breeding and ranching could be 
carried out in selected exporting countries to find 
solutions to the problems of disease control, illegal 
laundering of birds, and other assodated problems. 
In our view, a moratorium would be held open for 
limited importations of birds as part of internation- 
ally recognized sdentific studies of birds in captivity, 
recovery efforts, or public exhibitions for educational 
purposes. 

Concerr.ed dtizens and readers of The Auk can urge 
their elected representatives to support the enactment 
of an exotic bird trade act and to strengthen the pro- 
posed legislation by strengthening quarantine reg- 
ulations and enforcement requirements, and by de- 
creasing the number of avenues for birds to be legally 
imjjorted under these regtilations. 



Literature Qted 

Bhssinger, S. R., & E. H. BucH£R. 1991. Sustainable 
harvesting of parrots for conservation. In New 
World parrots in crisis: solutions from conser- 
vation biology (S. R. Beissinger and N. F. R. Sny- 
der, Eds.). Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Insti- 
tution Press. In press. 

Collar, N. J., & A. T. Juniper. 1991. Dimensions and 
causes of the parrot crisis. In New World parrots 
in crisis: solutions from conservation biology (S. 
R. Beissinger and N. F. R. Snyder, Eds.). Wash- 
ington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press. In 
press. 



INSIOPP, T. 1990. Numbers and value of wild birds 
in trade. Paper presented at the XX World Con- 
ference of the International Council for Bird 
- Preservation, Hamilton, New Zealand. 

, S. Broad, & R. Luxmoore. 1988. Significant 

trade in wildlife: a review of selected species in 
CITES Appendix n. Vol. 3: birxis. Cambridge, 
United Kingdom, World Conservation Union 
(lUCN). 

James, F. C. 1991. A round table discussion of bird 
trade problems and solutions. In New World par- 
rots in crisis: solutions fromconservation biology 
(S. R. Beissinger and N. F. R. Snyder, Eds.). Wash- 
ington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press. In 
press. 

Lau, a., & D. Melville. 1990. Biological and eco- 
nomic implications of the bird's nest trade in 
• Hong Kong. Paper presented at the XX World 
Conference of the International Council for Bird 
Preservation, Hamilton, New Zealand. 

MULLIKEN, T., & J. B. Thomsen. 1990. U.S. bird trade: 
the controversy continues although imports de- 
cline. TRAFnC(USA) 10(3): 1-13. 

NiLSSON, G. 1989. Importation of birds into the Unit- 
ed Sutes in 1985. Washington, D.C., Animal Wel- 
fare Institute. 

. 1990. Importation of birds into the United 

States in 1986-1988. Washington, D.C., Animal 
Welfare Institute. 

Thomsen, J. B., & T. A. MULUKEN. 1991. Trade in 
Neotropical psittacines and its conservation im- 
plications. In New World parrots in crisis: solu- 
tions from conservation biology (S. R. Beissinger 
and N. F. R. Snyder, Eds.). Washington, DC, 
Smithsonian Institution Press. In press. 

Accented 20 June 1991. 




89 



ASSOCIATION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 
ASSOCIAC^ PARA A CONSERVACAO DE PSfTAODEOS 
ASOOACICN para LA C0N6ERVACI3n DE PSITAQPOS 



ASSOCIATION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 



POSmON STATEMENT 



CAPTTVE BREEDING AS A RECOVERY MEASURE 



For further information about the Association for Parrot Conservation, please call (301) 897- 
3456 or write to APC, 13 East Rosemont Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22301 (USA) 



90 



ASSOCIATION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 

POSITION STATEMENT 

CAPTIVE BREEDING AS A RECOVERY MEASURE 

written by 

Dr. Noel Snyder, Director, Thick-billed Parrot Program, Wildlife Preservation Trust International, 
Portal, Arizona 



Captive breeding has served a crucial function in the recovery of a number of species of 
critically endangered wildlife, and has a role to play in the recovery of certain parrots. However, 
the Association for Parrot Conservation (APC) also recognizes that there are significant 
limitations to this technique when it is used as a recovery measure (i.e., birds are bred for 
ultimate release to the wild). In general, APC recommends it only as a short-term technique 
when other preferable conservation options are not immediately available. Employed properly 
in recovery programs, captive breeding can provide a critical boost for some severely threatened 
populations. Employed improperly, it can lead to greatly increased recovery costs and risks 
rather than benefits. It is important, therefore, to identify when it should or should not be used 
as a recovery measure. 

APC also recognizes that captive breeding has other values that are less directly related 
to species recovery, such as providing birds for exhibit, conservation education (especially to help 
convince the public of needs for habitat preservation), and fund-raising purposes. Captive 
populations can also provide an important resource for fundamental biological research and 
research training that cannot be accomplished with wild individuals. The precautions that should 
be observed in captive breeding for recovery purposes are different from those that are 
appropriate for captive breeding for these other purposes. In this position statement, APC 
addresses the advantages, disadvantages, and precautions that relate to captive breeding for 
recovery (reintroduction) purposes, without implying that this is the only sphere in which captive 
breeding plays a role in conservation. 

Advantages of Captive Breeding in Species Recovery Programs 

When captive breeding is properly integrated into a species recovery program it can offer 
a number of advantages. Most importantly, it can serve as a safety net for species whose wild 
populations face a high probability of extinction. With species that breed readily in captivity, 
it is sometimes possible to greatly increase the rate of reproduction through techniques such as 
multiple-clutching, and speed the recovery of wild populations through releases of captive-bred 
birds. Potentially, such releases can serve a number of purposes such as increasing extant 
populations, correcting sex-ratio imbalances, reestablishing extirpated populations and/or 
establishing new populations in natural or altered habitats. If conducted properly, captive 
breeding can sometimes make it possible to minimize losses of genetic diversity from critically 
threatened populations and minimize chances of catastrophic loss of populations. 

Captive populations have an important role to play in species recovery when pressures 
on wild populations are truly overwhelming in the s£ort term and there is no way to sustain wild 



91 



populations. In such cases, captive breeding can provide a short-tcnn reprieve, buying time for 
preparation of reintroduction sites that may pennit leestablishment of wild populations. 

Limitations of Captive Breeding 

The potentials of cq>tive breeding for species recovery are limited by a number of 
important considerations: 

(1) Difficulties in breeding certain species. Most psittacines have been bred in 
captivity, but sustained and quantitatively adequate captive production has remained an elusive 
goal for many species (sec Oubb 1992). For others, satisfactory production has been attained 
only by hand-rearing. Unfortunately, hand-reared birds can generally be expected to be of lesser 
value than parent-reared birds for reintroduction purposes, and in some cases, they may be 
impossible to reestablish in true wild environments. 

(2) Difficulties in reintroducing manv species to the wild . Reintroduction programs for 
vertebrates to date have been relatively unsuccessful when limited to captive-bred stock — 
averaging 11 - 38% successful in recent major surveys by Beck et al. (1994) and Griffith et 
al. (1989). Reintroductions of captive-bred parrots may often be expected to face problems with 
behavioral deficiencies resulting from a large component of learning in parrot behavioral 
repertoires and a difficulty in producing adequately normal behavior in captive environments. 
Unless captive-bred individuals are reintroduced by fostering to wild pairs or are released in 
predator-free or predator-deficient environments, many reintroductions may fail because of 
inadequate flocking behavior and poor habitat recognition abilities (see Snyder et al. 1994). The 
bottleneck in using captive breeding successfully in species recovery often lies in problems in 
reintroduction rather than in captive breeding itself. 

(3) High costs in facilities and personnel The costs of properly-run captive- breeding 
programs, including isolated. wcU-sited facilities, comprehensive disease control, and the 
manpower needed to maintain and care for the captive populations are substantial, sometimes 
running on the order of a half million dollars per year. Over the time needed for conservation 
programs, such costs can sometimes fat exceed those of other potential conservation methods. 
Techniques such as habitat preservation (which automatically benefits far more species than the 
single parrot species under consideration) are often far more economical. On the basis of costs 
vs. benefits, captive-breeding is commonly an undesirable option. 

(4) Disease risks. Parrots are susceptible to over 30 known pathogens and disease 
syndromes, many of which are widespread in captive collections and some of which caimot be 
reliably detected in carrier birds by presently available tests or standard quarantine procedures. 
Of course, diseases also occur in wild populations. However, wild populations are relatively well 
adapted to deal with indigenous diseases through natural immunities, and the greatest risks occur 
when species are exposed to novel, exotic diseases. Such exposure risks are especially great 
whenever birds are transported or held in large numbers in multispecies environments. Unless 
captive breeding is conducted under carefully controlled conditions, the risks of disease to 
captive, reintroduced, and wild populations are substantial. Ideally, to minimize these risks, 
captive breeding of endangered parrots for recovery purposes should occur in: 

a) closed, single-species facilities. 

b) facilities within the natural range of the species. 

c) facilities in which staff do not have contact with other species of wildlife, either 
professionally or avocationally. 

d) facilities that are sited as much as possible in areas free from arthropod disease veaors 



92 



and feral populadons of exotic birds. 

e) facilities where established protocols include rigorous disease prevention methodolo- 
gies, such as scrub-downs of personnel entering the facilities, and regular health 
examinations of captive stock. 

Further, captive-breeding stocks for recovery of endangered parrots should generally be 
assembled directly from the wild populations or from stocks held in closed single-species 
facilities with good records of disease prevention, and should not be formed from stocks that 
have been held in open multispecies facilities. 

Finally, APC emphasizes the importance of state-of-the-art disease screening for all birds 
used in captive-breeding for recovery purposes, even though such screening cannot be expected 
to reveal the presence of all diseases of importance. 

Observing these standards is often expensive but should be recognized as one of the 
inherent costs of comprehensive captive breeding conducted for recovery purposes. The 
consequences of not observing such precautions include enhanced risks of permanent 
establishment of new disease stress factors in already threatened wild populations and, in some 
cases, extinction or near-extinction of wild populations (see Jacobson 1993; Woodford and 
Rossiter 1994). 

(5) Managing genetic and behavioral changes. When captive populations are established 
for conservation and recovery purposes, the preservation of extant genetic variation and species- 
typical behavior assume paramount importaoce. Over the past decade, considerable attention has 
been given to the preservation of genetic diversity in small populations; much less attention has 
been given to the preservation of species-typical behavioral traits. Modem, conservation-oriented 
breeding programs must attempt to ameliorate the genetic effects of inbreeding, drift, and 
adaptation to the captive environment through the deliberate and careful control of reproduction, 
population size, population demography (Foose and Ballou 1988, Lacy 1987, Allendorf 1993). 
This is a difficult task, however, given (1) the practical limitations of population size and 
controlling reproduction; (2) the dynamic nature of evolutionary forces in small populations; (3) 
the types of genetic variation to be maintained; and (4) the uncertain nature of selection in the 
captive environment (see Lande 1988, Simberloff 1988). In low-fecundity taxa, like parrots, 
careful pedigree breeding and equalizing progeny number can minimize genetic drift and 
adaptation to captivity (AUendorf 1993). It should be noted, however, the some breeding 
programs for endangered parrots have failed to secure consistent reproduction or equalize progeny 
numbers even after years of effort 

Behavioral traits, especially those that are learned or culturally transmitted, are prone to 
rapid loss in captivity. The behavioral repertoires of many parrot species seem to include learned 
components, and problems with behavioral deficiencies have already been encountered in 
attempts to reintroduce captive-bred individuals of several species to the wild (see Wiley et al., 
1992, Snyder et al., 1994). Because the non-genetic transmission of information across 
generations appears to be essential for the survival of wild populations of some highly social 
species such as parrots (Toft 1994), breeding programs for reintroduction must focus careful 
attention on behavioral management in the captive environment Qearly, this aspect of captive 
management deserves much more scientific investigation than it has received, and will have to 
be completed on a species-by-species basis. 

(6) Problems in ensuring continuity of programs . Captive breeding represents a 
relatively unstable and input-intensive approach to conservation that is difficult to sustain over 
the lengths of time needed few recovery of endangered species. Changes in personnel and 
institutional priorities can frequently leave long-term programs without adequate support and 



93 



expertise. Likewise, overall changes in economic health of organizations can lead to mid-stream 
abandonment of programs. Of course, problems with continuity are not unique to captive 
breeding programs, and can affect complex in situ conservation efforts as well. 

(7) Preemption of other, better techniques . Another significant limitations of captive 
breeding is that is can preempt attention and resources from better, long-term conservation 
solutions. The existence of a captive population can give the inpression that the species is 
"safe" and allow agencies to ignore long-term solutions that are often more difficult politically, 
though much more effective and beneficial biologically. 

When is Captive Breeding Advantageous in Species Recovery? 

Because of the risks and limitations of the technique, APC believes that captive breeding 
should be invoked as a species recovery approach under carefully defined circumstances. The 
decision to start captive breeding for this purpose should be made only on a case-by-case basis 
and only following a comprehensive evaluation of conservation alternatives at the field level. 
It should not be made simply because some individuals are already in captivity and numbers of 
the species seem relatively low. Further, it should not be made when resources to conduct 
captive breeding comprehensively and humanely arc unavailable. 

In general, captive breeding can be justified as a desirable conservation approach when 
(1) species are so rapidly approaching extinction that they cannot be expected to survive without 
intensive intervention of some sort and either effective conservation alternatives are clearly 
unavailable in the short term or sufficient time to investigate alternatives does not exist, or (2) 
all or nearly all individuals of a species are already in captivity and it is deemed worthwhile to 
attempt to recstablishment of the wild populations, or (3) other conditions prevail that make 
captive breeding and reintroduction absolutely essential for preservation of the species in the 
wild. 

When captive breeding should begin for species in rapid decline is often a point of 
vigorous controversy. Qearly, waiting too long before starting will risk genetic deterioration and 
potential failure in developing adequate husbandry techniques, especially if technology for captive 
breeding of the species or closely related species has not previously been researched. However, 
starting too soon can represent unnecessary expense, accentuate genetic and behavioral 
management problems, and focus resources in unproductive directions, preempting other 
approaches that can offer potentials for more stable, long-term benefits. Population trends are 
often far more important than absolute numbers in making decisions as to whether and when 
captive breeding is warranted. Steeply declining species are cause for special concern, and care 
needs to be taken not to wait too long in establishing captive populations if effective alternatives 
are unavailable. In making such decisions, it is important to recognize the difference between 
ephemeral short-term population fluctuations and pervasive long-term population trends. 

APC does not endorse captive breeding programs for species recovery that are 
independent of efforts to develop alternative, long-term conservation solutions for wild 
populations. In general, APC urges that wild populations be sustained at the time captive 
populations are established so that research into Umiting factors can take place and problems in 
the wild can be identified and corrected, and so that reintroductions of captives to the wild can 
enjoy the advantages of linkage with wild populations. 

Finally, APC believes that captive breeding efforts for species recovery should proceed 
only when endorsed by the governments of the countries involved and should observe the 
precautions specified in the preceding sections. 



20-880 95-4 



94 



Literature cited: 

AUendorf, F.W. 1993. Delay of adaptation to captive breeding by equalizing family size. 
Conservation Biology 7:416-419. 

Beck, B.B., Rapaport, L.G., Price, M.S., and A. Wilson. 1994. Reintroduction of captive-bom 
animals. Pp. 265-284 in Creative Conservation: interactive management of wild and 
captive animals (Proceedings of the sixth World Conference on Breeding Endangered 
Species) (P.J.S. Olney, G.Mace, and A.T.C. Feistncr, eds.). Chapman and Hall, London. 

Clubb, S.L. 1992. The role of private aviculture in the conservation of New World psittacines. 
Pp. 117-130 in New World Parrots in Crisis: Solutions from Conservation Biology 
(S.R.Beissinger and N.F.R-Snyder, eds.), Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 

Griffith, B., Scott, J.M., Carpenter, J.W., and CReed. 1989. Translocation as a species 
conservation tool: status and strategy. Science 245:4770480. 

Jacobson, E.R. 1993. Implications of infectious diseases for captive propagation and introduction 
programs of threatened/endangered reptUes. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 
24:245-255. 

Snyder, N.F.R., Koenig. S., Koschmann, J., Snyder, H.A., and T.B. Johnson. 1994. Thick-billed 
parrot releases in Arizona. Condor 96:845-862. 

Woodford, M.H., and P.B. Rossiter. 1994. Disease risks associated with wildlife translocation 
projects. Pp. 178-200 in Creative Conservation: interactive management of wild and 
captive animals (Proceedings of the Sixth World Conference on Breeding Endangered 
Species) (P.J.S. Oleny, G. Mace, and A.T.C. Feistner, eds.). Chapman and Hall, London. 




95 



ASSOCIATION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 
AS50C1A(:AO PARA A CONSEKVACAO DE PSFTACIDEOS 
ASOaACICi^ PARA LA CONSERVAClflN DE PSITAaPOS 



ASSOCUTION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 

POSmON STATEMENT 
SUSTAINABLE USE AND TRADE OF BIRDS 



For further information about the Association for Parrot Conservation, please caU (301) 897- 
3456 or write to APC, 13 East Rosemont Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22301 (USA) 



96 

ASSOCIATION FOR PARROT CONSERVATION 

POSITION STATEMENT 
SUSTAINABLE USE AND TRADE OF BIRDS 

written by 

Dr. Steven R. Beissinger, Associate Professor of Ecology & Conservation Biology, School of 
Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511 

PURPOSE 

The harvest of birds from the wild for national and international trade is an important 
cause of population declines for many species. International and national regulations have been 
unable to control this multi-million dollar trade, which increasingly threatens the existence of 
wild bird populations and entire species. The situation has reached a crisis proportion for many 
species and an immediate change in the management of international trade is needed. Yet harvest 
for trade, if done properly, has the potential to be a source of revenue for local peoples and 
nations, and could lead to habitat conservation. In this document, the Association for Parrot 
Conservation (APC) outlines why the international trade in birds must be temporary halted and 
lays the biological foundation for achieving a trade in wild birds that does not threaten wild 
populations, is sustainable, and can lead to conservation of wild birds and their habitats. 

DIMENSIONS OF THE PROBLEM 

In recent years, international and national (internal or nonexport) trade in birds for pets 
and aviculture has grown greatly. Estimates of the cunent annual magnitude of the international 
trade in live birds range from two to five million individuals. Accurate data on the scale of 
internal trade in birds are not available, although this trade is also thought to be substantial in 
many countries. Finches from Africa and parrots from around the world compose the bulk of 
the individuals traded. 

Parrots represent the largest monetary share of commerce. The United States has 
accounted for 47% of all parrots sold internationally, and perhaps 80% of the trade in Neotropical 
parrots, followed by the European Economic Community and Japan. Approximately 1.8 million 
Neotropical psittacines, nearly all captured from the wild, were legally exported for trade from 
1982 to 1988. The actual numbers taken from the wild for commercial activities were probably 
several times as large, when internal trade, illegal export (e.g., 150,000 parrots per year are 
smuggled through Mexico), and high mortality rates of birds harvested from the wild (e.g., 60% 
may die in Mexico before exportation) are considered. The retail monetary value of the 1.8 
million parrots legally exported during this period has been estimated at $1.6 billion. 

This multi-million dollar trade increasingly threatens the existence of wild bird 
populations and even entire species. Although nearly all exporting countries are members of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (QTES), and many exporting 



97 



countries have adopted trade regulations, the domestic and international laws which are supposed 
to ensure that tr^)ping for trade docs not result in species declines have been largely ineffective. 
Harvest quotas have been adopted in many countries, but they are not based on scientific data 
and there have been no adequate biological studies to determine what levels of harvest would be 
sustainable. 

Principle problems from the trade of birds have been seen with parrots, which as a group 
are unable to sustain much pressure on wild populations. At least 42 of approximately 140 
species of Neotropical panots are currently at risk of extinction. For 22 of these species, trade 
is a major cause of endangerment Examples of panots now critically threatened by trade include 
the Spix's Macaw {Cyanopsitta spixii), the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), the 
Tucuman Amazon (Amazona tucumana), the Red-tailed Amazon (A. brasiliensis), and the Red- 
crowned Amazon (A. viridigenalis). Together, trade and habitat destruction now clearly represent 
the two major conservation problems afflicting parrots and many kinds of birds worldwide. 

Little is known about how trade is affecting most noncndangercd species in part because 
there are no species for which quotas have been set based on scientific information. However, 
if the Blue-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) is any indication, trade is probably having a 
strong effect even on many common species. Over 45,000 Blue-fronted Amazons were exported 
from Argentina from 1982 to 1986. It is inconceivable that this species can continue to sustain 
such harvest levels, as evidenced by its disappearance from many areas of its range. Trade may 
be as large a threat to nonendangered psittacines as habitat destruction, because many parrots arc 
habitat generalists. This is exemplified by the large number of parrot species that have been 
introduced, as a result of the pet trade, and become established in urban habitats around the 
world. In addition, the harvest of nestlings of hole-nesting species often involves destruction of 
nest trees, posing a further stress on wild populations limited by nest site availability. 

Captive breeding is the major source of individuals in trade for only a relatively few bird 
species - Budgerigars (Mehpsinacus undulatus), Cockatieis {Nymphicus hollandicus). Canaries 
(Serinus canaria). Zebra and Bengalese Finches {Amandava subflava and Lonchura domestica), 
most Agapomis lovebirds, several species of grass parrots {Neophema sp.) and rosellas 
{Platycercus sp.), and several Australian finches (e.g., Chloebia gouldiae, Poephila cincta, 
Poephila acuticauda). For most other birds, essentially all individuals in trade come directly 
horn wild sources, either trapped as free-flying adults or taken as nestlings. 

Despite the obvious threats to wild populations of many species posed by trade as it is 
currently conducted, little has been done by the international community to decrease the number 
of birds being removed from the wild. One notable exception is recent legislation enacted by 
the United States. The Exotic Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 prohibits the importation of 
birds that are listed on CITES appendices unless they originated from licensed captive-breeding 
facilities or sustainable-harvesting programs. In the first year since this legislation went into 
effect, the number of parrots and the total number of wild birds legally imported into the United 
States declined greatly, although exact figures are not yet available. It is not known, however, 
whether the number of birds illegally imported has increased. 



98 



A FIVE YEAR MORATORIUM ON THE TRADE OF LIVE BIRDS IS NEEDED 

On the basis of the situation summarized above, APC believes that the harvest of birds 
for national and international trade is not currently being conducted in a sustainable manner. 
Because the exploitation of live birds and their shipment around the world has had severe 
impacts on many wild populations in countries of origin, APC believes that there is no rational 
choice but to halt or greatly decrease the international and national trade in parrots and other 
birds until evidence can be presented that such trade in any species can be constituted in a 
sustainable manner. If trade in live birds is to continue, trade practices must be changed, and 
the removal of birds from the wild must be dramatically decreased. It is unlikely that the trade 
can be made sustainable in the face of the great pressure exerted by the current climate of 
unsustainable use. Under such conditions, most attempts at sustainable harvesting are likely to 
fail. 

APC recommends a moratorium on the international trade of wild-caught birds for a 5ve 
year period. A moratorium is recommended because it is the most sensible stance in terms of 
its potentials for immediately reducing the detrimental effects of the trade on wild populations, 
its simplicity and effectiveness of regulations, and its cost effectiveness. At the end of the 
moratorium, trade could be reopened for selected species when it can be shown that harvesting 
is sustainable. Obtaining the biological and sociological data to conduct a sustainable trade will 
require large investments of time and money, but trade should not have been allowed in the first 
place without this information. 

A five year moratorium would be long enough to permit overexploited bird populations 
to begin to recover and would allow time for important conservation programs to be enacted. 
An international campaign could be begun to pass legislation like the Wild Bird Conservation 
Act in the European Economic Community, Japan, and other countries. Education programs 
about the implications of keeping parrots and other birds as pets could be implemented to reduce 
the demand for wild birds both in wnpornag and exporting countries. Research programs to 
document the status, basic natural history, and population dynamics of exploited species could 
be initiated. Experimental ranching programs could be run in selected exporting countries to find 
solutions to poaching, illegal laundering of birds, and other associated problems. In our view, 
a moratorium would be held open for limited importations of birds as part of internationally 
recognized scientific studies of birds in captivity, recovery efforts, or public exhibitions for 
educational purposes. A moratorium for five years would signal that business can not continue 
as usual, but that business could continue if the trade could be made sustainable. It would 
provide impetus to the users of birds, the harvesters and importers, to take the steps needed to 
make a trade in birds sustainable, which would not be a trivial undertaking. 

APC realizes that the issues relating to the governance of the international and national 
trade are complex, and that biological, political, social, and economic factors each affect the 
conditions under which trade has been or should be implemented. But because a moratorium or 
a trade ban alone is unlikely to slow the high rate of habitat destruction that threatens parrots and 
other forms of biological diversity, pobcy should be enacted in such a way that it will encourage 
future harvesting schemes if they can be demonstrated to be truly sustainable. 



99 



In the remainder of fliis policy statement, APC presents general principles that should 
guide die harvest and trade of birds, discusses the potential benefits and difficulties of enacting 
sustainable use of birds, and presents a vision of how the trade could be re-created for both 
commercial and conservation purposes. 



PRINCIPLES FOR GUIDEMG THE SUSTAINABLE HARVEST AND TRADE OF BIRDS 

APC strongly advocates the use of seven general principles develop)ed by The American 
Ornithologists' Union to guide trade in birds. The seven principles focus primarily on the 
in^lications for conserving wild bird populations in the countries of origin as well as in 
importing countries. APC's approach to trade and sustainable use of parrots is based on these 
principles: 

1. The harvest and imponation of live birds should be sustainable, and should not pose risks 
for wild populations of species that are harvested There is no justification for commercial 
endeavors to result in the extinction in the wild of a species, as has been the case for several 
parrots as the trade is currently practiced. Although CITES provides some protection for a small 
set of species listed in its Appendix I, even some of these have been imported in significant 
numbers relative to wild population sizes (e.g., the Hyacinth Macaw). If trade in wild birds is 
to continue, it must be done on a sustainable basis. In other words, trade must be implemented 
in such a way that it does not pose threats to wild populations. Export quotas for some countries 
need to be lowered drastically. Important biological information is needed to determine what 
levels of harvest would be sustainable. This information has not been gathered for any species 
in the trade. Biological data suggest that there is a potential to harvest some parrots in a 
sustainable manner through the use of nest boxes to increase productivity, although no "ranching" 
projects with fi-ee-flying birds have been attempted to date. Because most parrots have low 
reproductive potential and long life spans, they are susceptible to overbarvesting and conservative 
approaches to harvesting should be used. These include harvesting only nestlings and not adults, 
and harvesting primarily nestlings that are produced in excess of natural productivity as a result 
of management programs. Maximizing nestling harvest levels requires managing to maximize 
the number of pairs of birds nesting, which in theory would result in robust populations close to 
the carrying capacity of the environment However, careful evaluations of the biological, social 
and economic problems of ranching programs must be conducted before such programs are 
encouraged or discouraged. Finally, there is no reason that any of the 1 100 bird species listed 
by lUCN as threatened with extinction should be traded for commercial purposes. 

2. The harvest and importation of live birds should not pose significant risks of disease 
transmission to native species, poultry, or other birds held for legitimate purposes such as 
exhibition or scientific study. Quarantine regulations around the world are, for the most part, 
unlikely to stop the importation of diseases that potentially threaten native species and poultry. 
For example, all birds imported to the United States are held for 30 days of USDA-regulated 
quarantine and tested only for Exotic Newcastle Disease (WND). This period is too brief to 
aUow the detection of other slow acting pathogens, many of which have recently been imported 
into collections of captive birds and potentially could be transferred to native species. 
Difficulties with this one disease alone, which caused a massive loss to the U.S. poultry industry 
in 1972 and continues to strike periodically since then, suggests that enormous economic losses 



100 



may occur if the worldwide shipments of birds continues and cuirent quarantine regulations are 
not changed. Quarantine procedures must include much longer quarantine periods and testing 
for many more diseases. The massive extinctions of native Hawaiian birds, caused in part by 
diseases to which many species had no prior exposure, exemplify the potentials of exotic diseases 
to have tragic consequences. 

3. The importation of live birds should not result in significant potentials for the establishment 
of feral populations. Uncontrolled experiments in introductions of exotic bird species are already 
underway around the world as a result of continued international trade. Large numbers of exotic 
birds establishing themselves, so far mostly in urban environments but perhaps eventually 
spreading to natural ecosystems, may cause native populations to decline or could become serious 
pests. International trade should be prohibited for species with good colonizing abilities that are 
proven pests, like the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus). 

4. The harvest, exportation, and importation of live birds should be consistent with national 
policies concerning the use of native species. To be ethically consistent, the trade in live birds 
should be regulated by nations in the same manner that they regulate commercial uses of native 
wildlife. Some exporting countries have no clear set of laws for the use of native wildlife. 
Others choose to regulate the use of valuable species such as parrots as pest species so they can 
set very high harvest quotas, even though they prohibit commercial use of less valuable species. 
For importing countries, another kind of dilemma exists. Most prohibit commercial uses of 
native bird species. Legal forms of utilization of wild birds, for example sport hunting and 
falconry, are usually carefully regulated, require licenses, and require that wild populations of 
game birds or raptors be managed in a sustainable maimer. Exotic birds have been largely 
exempt from such regulations until the passage in the U.S. of the WUd Bird Conservation Act 
of 1992. So although it is illegal to market or hold native bird species, except under permit, it 
is quite legal to practice these same activities with most nonnative birds without a permit Both 
situations pose unfortunate ethical inconsistencies in the treatment of wildlife species. 

5. The trade of live birds should be governed by regulations that are economically feasible, 
practically enforceable, simple, and effective. Regulations should not preclude scientific studies 
of birds in captivity, international recovery efforts, or public exhibitions for educational purposes. 
Complicated regulations imply complicated bureaucracies and significant expense, and are 
susceptible to failure because of underfunding and difficulties in addressing complexities. 
Simplicity in regulations is an important goal. Enforcing trade regulations that allow harvest and 
imnortation of wild-caught birds would require the development of adequate marking systems to 
detect the laundering of illegal birds through captive breeding or ranching programs, and to detect 
smuggled birds. Presently no marking system is completely reliable. More resources must be 
invested in enforcing any legislation, including stronger fines and sentences for convicted 
smugglers, if legislation is to effectively deter current widespread smuggling. Practically 
enforceable harvest regulations are necessary as the cornerstone of any system of sustainable use. 

6. Captive breeding of exotic species for aviculture should be self-sustaining (i.e., without 
requiring the continued importation of wild-caught birds) and be conducted humanely. The 
importation of wild birds for commercial aviculture had been fueled in part because it was often 
less expensive for aviculturists to import adult wild-caught birds than to buy captive-reared birds. 
Aviculturists do not need continued access to wild birds for captive breeding stock because all 



101 



species of commercial importance are already represented in sufficient numbers in captivity to 
constitute a viable gene pool under active, cooperative management (30 to 50 birds per species). 
Species with fewer individuals in captivity are obviously not of commercial importance. Instead 
of supplementing captive birds with wild imports, private aviculturists must begin to adjust their 
practices toward the goal of self-sustaining captive populations, including better coordination of 
studbooks and the development of cooperative programs to maintain genetically viable captive 
gene pools. Humane care of captive birds, from the transporting and holding of birds in export 
and import centers (e.g., quarantine facilities) to the housing of birds in commercial breeding 
facilities, must be a priority. 

7. Captive breeding of exotic birds as a conservation strategy should be pursued only as a last 
resort, and only as part of internationally recognized and structured programs. The promotion 
of captive breeding as conservation by aviculturists is sometimes a rationalization for keeping 
exotic birds in captivity in private collections. Captive breeding for conservation should be fully 
integrated with preservation and reintroduction efforts, conducted within the native range of the 
species whenever possible, and internationally coordinated. Aviculturists committed to 
conservation could play a significant role in future reintroduction programs if adequate control 
over disease threats can be achieved, and the ownership and control of birds is given up to a 
central authority. However, many problems are associated with the use of captive breeding for 
conservation, as detailed in the APC position papa on this topic, so this technique should be 
used with great discretion. 

THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF TRADE ARE GREAT BUT DIFnCULT TO ACHIEVE 

If it is implemented properly and conservatively, sustainable harvesting may provide 
advantages for conservationists, aviculturists, the pet industry, and local peoples. Conservation- 
ists could gain by having healthy populations of wild parrots, and by transmitting economic value 
to habitats to help conserve them in their natural states. This would benefit a broad array of 
plant and animal species besides parrots. For example, if parrots can be sustainably harvested 
from tropical rain forests, this would provide another commodity which might help to make 
extractive reserves more economically valuable than forest land cleared for timber harvest or 
cattie production. Sustained harvesting of many species of parrots will require that substantial 
areas of land be maintained as mature forest Aviculturists could purchase new genetic stock for 
their breeding programs from birds harvested sustainably, although cooperative management 
programs could accomplish the same thing for nearly all species currently in captivity. The pet 
industry would have a steady but small inflow of legally imported birds already conditioned to 
captivity. Finally, the profits from these programs could be directed to the local people in need 
of ways to support themselves, and the economy of nations that are trying to develop. 

Realizing the benefits of trade requires a degree of control over harvesting that is difficult 
and expensive to achieve. Solving the biological problems associated with sustained harvest of 
birds may be easier than solving some of the social and political problems. Particular problems 
for sustainable harvesting programs are posed by the illegal laundering of birds by personnel in 
these programs, poaching of birds by people outside of these program, the development of 
reliable marking systems to identify legal birds, and the temptation to overharvest to make more 
profit Without strong controls over harvesting programs that are enforced, attempts at sustained 
harvesting could increase conservation problems rather than solve them. 



102 



RE-aiEATING A BIRD TRADE THAT CONSERVES SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS 

If there is to be a trade in parrots, it must be conducted on a sustainable basis. There is, 
however, no single definition of what constitutes sustainable use. A commonly accepted 
biological basis for sustainable use of renewal resources is that harvest levels must not exceed 
the number of individuals needed to replenish the population and should not have negative effects 
on other components of die ecosystem. The only way to determine what harvest levels are 
sustainable is to conduct detailed biological studies of the natural history, demography, 
movements, and population size and trends of the species to be harvested over a number of years. 
Quotas set by any other method will have little if any biological justification. Species with low 
numbers locally or globally are not candidates for sustainable use, despite their high economic 
value, until their populations can be recovered. It is impossible to set valid quotas for export if 
the size of the nonexport (internal) trade remains unknown. Thus, future studies of the degree 
of harvest for in-country markets are needed in many countries. 

Strong hopes should not be placed in sustained harvesting as a conservation strategy until 
several demonstration projects can determine the feasibility and scale of harvesting. Experimental 
programs of sustained harvesting must be run to find solutions to the problems of illegal 
laundering of birds, poaching, reliable marking systems, and ovcrharvesting. Serious funds will 
need to be allocated to enforce harvest and trade regtilations in both exporting and importing 
countries. Enforcement of regulations must occur before exploiters will take harvest regulations 
seriously. Harvesting is unlikely to be sustainable unless all of the conditions discussed above 
can be satisfied. 

National and international regulation of harvest and trade must shift from the use of 
national quotas to local harvest quotas based on scientific management plans. Using national 
quotas to regulate harvests does not tie harvest levels into local conditions and provides no 
impetus for ecosystem conservation. Harvesting of parrots is often done for extra income by 
campesinos, who do not own the land, or poachers. The landowners (public or private) are 
missing actors in the parrot trade and have no motivation for preserving wildlife as a source of 
income. The process leads to the "tragedy of the commons" - parrots are overexploited because 
they are viewed as nobody's property and their use is not locally regulated. The "middlemen", 
buyers and importers who have profited most from the bird trade, do not make investments to 
ensure the sustainability of the parrot trade in the region. Instead, they behave opportunistically 
and move to less exploited areas, or shift to other q>ecies according to availability and 
international prices. Thus, using national quotas to regulate harvests benefits most those 
economic interests that lie outside of the region and that lack any commitment to sustaining the 
birds or their habitats. Instead, harvest quotas must be developed on a site-by-site basis, such 
as for a particular ranch or management area. Local harvest quotas would directly coiuiect 
harvest levels to local parrot population changes and habitat conditions. 

Two important components of the international trade also need to be improved - 
quarantine testing for diseases and the treatment birds in captivity. Quarantine in most countries 
is not very effective because few diseases are monitored over a short period of time. With the 
global movement of birds in the international trade, it is only a matter of when, not if, an exotic 
disease outbreak will occur. Quarantine procedures should include testing for more diseases over 



103 



a longer period of tune. However, many birds die before they are shipped, although survivorship 
during shipping has improved in recent years. Mortality must be lowered in countries of origin 
during the holding period. This can be acheived by better regulations for the care and holding 
of birds to be exported, and by educating all involved in harvesting and holding birds. 

In conclusion, sustained harvesting can only achieve its purpose if robust bird populations 
and habitat preservation result Sustainable harvesting of panots and other birds cannot 
contribute to species or habitat conservation unless sound scientific information is available, 
methods to regulate harvesting and trade are developed and enforced, and a diverse set of 
sustainably-managed products are harvested simultaneously. 



ADDITIONAL READING 

Beissinger, S. R., and E. H. Bucher. 1992. Can parrots be conserved through sustainable 
harvesting? BioScience 42:164-173. 

Beissinger, S. R., N. F. R. Snyder, S. R. Deirickson, F. C. James, and S. M. Lanyon. 1991. 
International trade in live exotic birds creates a vast movement that must be halted. Auk 
108:982-984. 

Thomsen, J. B., and T. A. Mulliken. 1992. Trade in neotropical psittacines and its consovatiQn 
implications. Pages 221-239 in S. R. Beissinger and 

N. F.R-Snyder, eds.New World parrots in crisis: solutions from conservation biology. 
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 



104 



WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT 
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS 

September 28, 1995 

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 
U.S. House of Representatives 

Testimony of Frank M. Bond, General Counsel 
North American Falconers Association 



Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to present 
testimony this morning. I am Frank M. Bond, and I serve as General Counsel for the North 
American Falconers Association ("NAFA"). I appear today on behalf of NAFA's President, Dr. 
Ken Felix, and its 2,600 members in the United States and throughout the world. For the most 
part, my testimony will focus on the application of the Wild Bird Conservation Act ("WBCA") 
to birds of prey, frequently referred to as raptors. 

Anyone who deals with birds of prey are subjected to the regulations promulgated under 
the authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The falconry community of the United States 
in licensed through a federal and state permitting process under 50 CFR 21 .28, 21 .29 and 22.24, 
and for our members, and for others who are also captive propagators, they must comply with 
the standards of 50 CFR 21.30. These regulations do not distinguish markedly among wild 
harvested and captively propagated birds. Further, with certain species of raptors the full force 
of the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") applies, and finally for import and export of raptors, 
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ("C.I.T.E.S.") and its attendant 
regulations control all movement. The regulatory burden imposed by these laws on raptors is 
staggering. 

The stated purposes of the WBCA are to promote conser.'ation of exotic (non-U. S.) 
species of birds by: (1) ensuring that all imports into the United States of species of exotic birds 



105 



Testimony of Frank M. Bond 
WBCA Oversight Hearings 
September 28, 1995 



are biologically sustainable and not detrimental to the species; (2) ensuring that imported birds 
are not subject to inhumane treatment during capture and transport; and (3) assisting 
conservation and management programs in the countries of origin. These purpose may be noble 
as they apply to some species of birds, but they do not apply to raptors, because birds of prey 
cannot be imported for "pet" purposes. U.S. citizens and organizations may only hold raptors 
for conservation, propagation, falconry, education and rehabilitation purposes. And every one 
of these purposes is regulated. 

Our recommendation to this Committee is to exempt all Falconiformes from the WBCA. 
Falconiformes should be added to that relatively small list of birds for which it was determined 
previously that the WBCA served no useful purpose. At the very least, proven captive bred 
Falconiformes should be exempted from the provisions because captive bred raptors are not part 
of any wild population. 

In support of the request for exemption of Falconiformes, the purposes of the WBCA do 
not appropriately apply for the following reasons: 

1. Raptors have been internationally imported and exported in small numbers 
for falconry purposes for thousands of years. More recently, some birds 
are imported and exported for captive propagation purposes with the goal 
of conservation and falconry. To our knowledge, there is not a single 
incident of this activity being detrimental to any species of raptor 
anywhere in the world. Frankly, evidence demonstrates that there have 



106 



Testimony of Frank M. Bond 
WBCA Oversight Hearings 
September 28, 1995 



not been any significant increase in the import and export of raptors for 
any purpose. 

Raptors captured from the wild or bred in captivity for falconry purposes, 
and subsequently imported or exported, are captured and transported with 
the same humane techniques employed for banding and specimen 
collection. In fact, the techniques developed by falconers later were 
adopted by the scientific and conservation conmiunity . To be of any value 
for falconry or captive propagation, raptors must be maintained in nearly 
perfect physical and emotional condition. Therefore, proper care and 
handling during capture and transport is foremost. Further, to transport 
birds of prey internationally by air, a raptor must be shipped individually 
in a specially constructed container prescribed in Container Requirement 
20 by the International Air Transport Association and it must be 
accompanied by a health certificate issued by a governmental authority 
from the country of origin. 

Falconers and falconry techniques have been the cornerstone of raptor 
conservation efforts throughout the world. We point with pride at our 
efforts in the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon, now being considered for 
delisting from the Endangered Species List. To be a falconer or a raptor 
propagator, an individual must meet a series of very strict standards for 
knowledge and maintenance facilities. These standards are in place at our 



107 



Testimony of Frank M. Bond 
WBCA Oversight Hearings 
September 28, 1995 



request to ensure that only competent and dedicated individuals are issued 

permits. We insist that the welfare of these birds be placed above all 

other concerns. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued several cooperative captive breeding 

permits to raptor propagators which are required under WBCA. Some people here today may 

argue that the problems for captive propagators of raptors are taken care of by the issuance of 

cooperative program permits. I assume that it has been an administrative burden for the Service 

to complete such propagation program requests. For those who breed many raptors in captivity, 

it has been yet another regulatory burden without any perceived benefit. In fact, it is simply 

another stumbling block which actually inhibits the work of several conservation programs. I 

believe that Service recognizes the problem, but the WBCA demands that more unnecessary 

paperwork be completed for birds of prey. 

If the WBCA is ever going to benefit any wild populations of birds, then it must be much 
better focus'^d on very specialized problems. Those problems need to be defined and understood 
completely by the people who are going to administer the WBCA. All families or species of 
birds which will not benefit from the system developed under the WBCA should be specifically 
exempted. For the reasons stated above, Falconiformes should be exempted, because wild 
populations are now protected, international movement is strictly controlled, and people who 
handle raptors for any purpose are closely regulated. 



108 



PET INDUSTRY 
JOINT ADVISORY 
COUNCIL 

1220 19th Street. N,W. 
Suite 400 

Washington, DC. 20036 
Telephone: 202-452-1525 
Fax: 202-293-4377 



BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 



STATEMENT OF 

MARSHALL MEYERS 

ON BEHALF OF THE 

PET INDUSTRY JOINT ADVISORY COUNCIL 

CONCERNING 

THE WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT OF 1992 

P.L. 102-440 



SEPTEMBER 28, 1995 



Communication with respect to this 
Statement should be addressed to: 

N. Marshall Meyers 

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council 

1220 19th Street, NW 

Washington, DC 20036 

(202)452-1525 



109 



BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERffiS, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 



STATEMENT OF 

MARSHALL MEYERS 

ON BEHALF OF THE 

PET INDUSTRY JOINT ADVISORY COUNCIL 

CONCERNING 

THE WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT OF 1992 

PL. 102-440 



SEPTEMBER 28, 1995 



Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee, I am Marshall Meyers, 
Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council 
(PIJAC). I appreciate the opportunity to testify on the implementation, or lack thereof, of 
the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA). 

PUAC has been involved with this issue since its genesis some eight years ago. 
PIJAC has been, and remains, supportive of the underlying intent of the WBCA. 
Unfortunately, however, several of PIJAC 's reservations expressed during the original 
Congressional deliberations have become a reality. At the same time, PIJAC remains 
actively involved in the Department's implementation process as regulations needed to 
implement the Act languish in the recesses of the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Despite these implementation problems, PUAC remains hopeful that the WBCA 
can become an effective conservation tool. The future success of the WBCA, however, 
will require several amendments and far greater Congressional oversight than has existed 
during the past three years. 

If the WBCA is to meet its objectives, certain amendments, not repeal , are 
required. PUAC respectfully urges the Committee to consider the following: 

1. Amend Section 1 13 to carry out the original Congressional intent 
that CITES Appendix III birds are not covered by the WBCA 
except for those birds located in the listing country. 

2. Reauthorize the WBCA with recommendations for adequate 
funding to properly implement and enforce the Act. 



no 



3. Direct the Secretary to fully implement the WBCA by expeditiously 
promulgating user-friendly, reasonable, and workable regulations 
with respect to approval of foreign captive breeding facilities and 
foreign sustainable-use conservation programs. 

4. Amend Sections 106 and 107 of the WBCA to ensure that captive 
bred exotic birds may be freely imported into the United States 
pursuant to regulations which contain incentives, not disincentives. 

5. Amend Section 1 12(4), to exempt progeny of approved U.S. 
cooperative breeding programs from any tracking requirements. 

6. Periodically convene Congressional oversight hearings, at least 
annually, until the Committee is satisfied that the WBCA has been 
properly implemented. 

It should be emphasized that PLJAC is not asking Congress to rewrite the 
proposed FWS regulations. Rather, we are requesting that the original Congressional 
intent be made clear to insure that the final regulations do not contravene this intent. 
Minor legislative modifications to the WBCA are required. 

While we are sensitive to the fact that the Congress authorized $5,000,000 
annually for fiscal years 1993 through 1995, far less has been actually appropriated. 
Moreover, the Administration, to the best of our knowledge, has not requested 
appropriations the past two years. Thus, implementation takes a back-seat to other 
programs; foreign assistance as contemplated by Section 114(16 U.S.C. 4913) is 
meaningless; and exporting countries remain bewildered why the equally concerned 
European Union continues to work with them to import wild-caught birds while gathering 
data and implementing conservation management programs. At this point, the United 
States remains isolated in its inability or unwillingness to adequately address the issues 
presented. 

Passage of the WBCA was the result of a significant compromise among a number 
of varied interest groups. Rather than adopting an outright ban on imports, we thought 
that the Congress elected instead to continue its support of sustainable utilization by 
including in the WBCA specific provisions that allow for importation of captive-bred as 
well as wild-caught CITES listed species. Accordingly, the WBCA was designed to 
promote conservation of exotic birds by: 

1 . Ensuring that all imports into the United States are biologically 
sustainable and not detrimental to the species. 

2. Ensuring that imported birds are not subjected to inhumane treatment 
during capture and transport. 



Ill 



3, Assisting wild bird conservation and management programs in foreign 
countries. 

4. Encouraging and promoting captive breeding. 

Three years after enactment, the pet industry, aviculture, and others supportive of 
sustainable use programs anxiously await implementation of key portions of the WBCA 
that would facilitate importation of captive-bred birds and wild-caught birds harvested 
pursuant to U.S. -approved foreign conservation management programs While it may 
have been the intent of Congress that the WBCA would accomplish these laudable goals, 
it appears that the Service's actions reflect a far different intent. The proposed regulations 
governing approval of foreign captive breeding facilities and foreign sustainable-use 
conservation export programs are so restrictive and burdensome as to promote 
disincentives, not incentives, for engaging in any of the activities contemplated by the 
Congress. 

No foreign captive breeder, no foreign government, and no U.S. importer will 
make any substantial investments in light of the high probability of denial by FWS as well 
as the risk of running afoul of aggressive FWS anti-wildlife-use law enforcement in the 
FWS. The risk is simply too great. 

The impact of the WBCA on the commercial pet bird industry has been and 
continues to be significant.' It has destroyed the import industry and adversely affected 
the supply of birds, both captive bred and wild-caught. Prior to enactment, the avian 
import program consisted of approximately 30 to 40 active importers responsible for 
importing slightly more than 320,000 birds for pets, captive breeding, zoological display, 
and re-export. For FY 95, USDA reports that only 55,166 birds have been received in 
U.S. quarantine facilities. Following enactment of the WBCA, only 6 to 7 active 
importers remain. Part of this attrition is directly related to economic conditions, shifting 
consumer preferences, increased domestic breeding of the larger Pssitacine species, not the 
WBCA As the import industry is fiirther decimated, importation will become more than 
simply "difficult" for cooperative breeding programs, captive-bred birds, and the few wild- 
caught birds allowed access to U.S. markets. 

. What has the WBCA actually accomplished? 

1. An inability of foreign captive breeders to obtain U.S. 
approval of their breeding facilities; 

2. An inability of foreign governments to gain U.S. approval of their avian 
sustainable use conservation programs; 

3. A failure to attain funding necessary to implement the act; 

4. A failure to provide foreign assistance to those countries seeking to 
implement U.S. approved conservation programs, and 



The commercial industry sales of live birds and related products (i.e., feed, cages, toys, 
medications) approximates $SSO million dollars annually. 



112 



5. The prohibited importation of all Appendix HI birds, species which are 

not part of the CITES scientific review and listing process. 

The Automatic Prohibition of all Appendix III Species is Inappropriate and Section 
105(c) Requires Amendment 

During Congressional hearings, PUAC addressed the anomaly of including all 
Appendix III species under the WBC A Unlike species listed under Appendices I and n which 
undergo CITES' scientific review, the listing of an Appendix HI species is a unilateral action of 
a particular CITES Party. When a species is listed under Appendix HI, it is not subject to the 
same level of CITES controls. Such listings are solely for the purpose of assisting the listing 
nation in implementing its domestic legislation. Such listings are not subject to CITES' review 
to determine the biological or trade status of the species. 

During deliberations, PUAC urged the Committee to indicate clearly that Appendix EH 
species were not subjected to the same automatic import prohibitions being imposed on other 
CITES listed species. Our requests were ignored and Committee staff argued that the 
Legislative History would cure the problem. 

However, the FWS interpreted the WBCA to limit its applicability to Appendix HI 
listed species and determined that Appendix III species are considered CITES-listed species 
under the WBCA only if the birds originated in the country that listed the species. Shortly 
thereafter, the Humane Society of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife successfijUy 
challenged the Service's interpretation in the United States District Court for the District of 
Columbia. The Court found that the plain language of the Act bars importation of any CITES- 
listed species. Section 105(c), therefore, should be amended to specifically exclude specimens 
of Appendix HI species fi^om the automatic prohibitions of the WBCA unless they originated in 
the listing country. Such an amendment would not hold one country hostage to another 
country's listing. 

Approval of Foreign Conservation-based Sustainable Use Programs 

In assessing the implementation of the WBCA, the Committee needs to carefully 
review the regulations being promulgated. While the WBCA could benefit conservation 
management of wild-caught birds as well as promote captive breeding, the regulations, both 
final and pending, implementing the WBCA are excessive, regressive and overly restrictive. 
Furthermore, a number of the proposed rules exceed the authority granted by the enabling 
statute. They remove any incentive to (1) captive breed birds for export to the United States, 
or (2) develop management plans for exporting wild-caught birds under the U.S. criteria. The 
proposed regulations contain requirements not only specifically spelled out in the law, but also 
a number of additional requirements that, while possibly technically justifiable, reflect the eco- 
imperialism that is becoming so prominent in American foreign wildlife policy. 

Do not be misled by Departmental protestations regarding criticism of the proposed 
regulations and claims that such criticism is premature. No matter what excuses or cloak the 



113 



Department wraps around its actions by characterizing proposed regulations as "tentative," 
"conceptual," or "ideas" published simply for public comment, the underpinnings of those 
proposals clearly reveal Departmental philosophy and intent, though it may be modified as a 
result of public outcry, contempt, and increasing public disdain for intrusive federal 
government. Later in my testimony I will comment in detail on several aspects of those 
proposals to highlight concerns raised by PUAC at various levels of the legislative and 
regulatory process. 

While the proposed regulations contain a perception that the U.S. supports and 
encourages sustainable development pursuant to conservation management plans, a close 
reading of the complex, often overbearing criteria, clearly indicates a patronizing, 
sometimes high-handed, approach that will discourage, not encourage, the desired result. 
Prohibiting imports to the U.S. will not affect exports to Europe or the Far East. 
Therefore, the U.S. should consider working with developing countries in the same spirit 
as the European Union to encourage the development of basic conservation management 
programs that can be enhanced as the country gains experience. The EU approach 
involves cooperation, funding, and technical assistance. Moreover, the EU works with 
exporting countries in the development of acceptable quotas as a means of allowing 
limited trade to support the program. A total ban while gathering data, as advocated by 
some staff, sends a far different message and achieves an anti-sustainable use result. 

The proposed regulations go farther, however, by mandating what a country must 
do to implement CITES rather than ask what they are doing. In essence, a sovereign 
nation must implement CITES "the U.S. way" or such implementation is "inadequate" for 
purposes of FWS regulations. Furthermore, the criteria set forth in the proposed 
regulations go well beyond the statute by requiring detailed scientific data rather than 
allowing the countries the opportunity to provide data they deem relevant to demonstrate 
that export is non-detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild ~ the CITES 
standard. 

For a foreign government's plan to qualify under the proposed regulations, the 
FWS must ~ 

(1) Determine if the country has established a " functioning " Scientific 
Authority" (even though the WBCA only requires the establishment 
of a scientific authority or equivalent);^ 

(2) Pass judgment on whether the country has complied with CITES- 
recommended "remedial measures" (apparently U.S. judgment can 
supersede CITES determinations of compliance) ~ an indication of an 
insidious form of eco-imperialism); 

(3) Pass judgment on the country's "establishment of legislation and 
infrastructure necessary to enforce ..." CITES, and the submission of 
annual reports^; and 



WBCA Secdons 106 and 107 do not address what constitutes a "functioning Authority." 



114 



(4) Evaluate, receive public comment, and approve or deny the country's 
"scientifically-based management plan" that addresses biological and 
humane issues. 

To qualify a foreign government's conservation management plan as 
"scientifically-based," an exporting country would have to provide extensive amounts of 
population, reproduction, nest site, clutch size, nest competition, diet and where the 
species "forages" (at each life cycle), habitat (at each life cycle) and trade data. The 
approval process would also require the status, current and future trends for the species, 
as well as its habitat, including scientific references. Additional information on habitat 
would also be required. 

Population data must be for "at least three separate years or one year with plans 
for future years." Habitat data must cover the entire range throughout the country (with 
scientific references and maps), status and trends of important habitats used by the species, 
management activities relative to the habitat, and a list of management plans "planned, 
developed, or implemented for the species' important habitats," "information on the role 
of the species in its ecosystem," incentives for conservation including how utilization 
"promotes the value of the species and its habitat by means of environmental education, 
cooperative efforts or projects, development of cooperative management units, and/or 
activities involving local communities," and a host of other information 

The management plan must provide for conservation of the species at "optimal 
levels", even for pest species that are, in some instances, being exterminated or subject to 
rigorous population reduction programs To be exported in trade, however, the species, 
however, must be maintained at "optimal" levels. The regulations contain no definition of 
"optimal" so one is left to the predilections of the FWS reviewer, a person who might be 
totally opposed to pest management programs. 

Most of the information will take many people many years to gather, compile, and 
report in a fashion that passes US peer review The proposa' clearly reflects the personal 
positions of several Service staff members that long term studies spanning many years 
must be submitted and that such studies must meet US perceptions of valid data and 
scientific methodology. Not every species, especially pest species, warrants such a 
commitment. Nor do most countries enjoy the luxury of making such commitments. They 
are not flooded with doctoral candidates in this particular field and cleariy do not possess 



Requiring current filing of aruiual reports as a condition precedent to approving a Section 106 foreign 
government's management plan or a Section 107 foreign captive breeding facility exceeds any 
authority contemplated by the WBCA. While the Department is properly concerned about the status of 
CITES Aiuiual Reports, this is not the appropriate vehicle to "blackmail" non-compliant parties. It is 
also somewhat hypocritical to require "current" filings inasmuch as the United Slates' track record 
leaves a bit to be desired in terms of aimuai report fiUngs, both in terms of timeliness aiul accuracy. 
Sanctions for late or non-filings should be dealt with only in the CFTES arena - the WBCA was not 
conceived to poUce CITES member states or to be a CITES' enforcement agent.. 



115 



the funds necessary to gather all of the data that FWS would require in the proposed 
regulations. 

To qualify the plan, the foreign country would also have to provide a description 
(including photographs or diagrams) of the "shipping methods and enclosures ... including 
but not limited to feeding and care during transport, densities of birds in shipping 
enclosures, and estimated consignment sizes." Interestingly, current CITES resolutions, 
as well as the Lacey Act regulations (50 C.F.R. Sec. 14. 101 et. seq.) require that all 
imports comply with those import shipping standards, including the International Air 
Transport Association's Live Animals Regulations . lATA approval would also be 
conditioned upon satisfying the FWS that the "methods of capture, transport, and 
maintenance of the species minimize the risk of injury, damage to health, or inhumane 
treatment." 

Meeting these conditions may be practically insurmountable since experience has 
demonstrated that certain FWS staff members may not believe that such compliance can 
be achieved under any circumstances; therefore, no plans will be approved. Indeed, some 
in FWS advocate consignment size limits that make it totally uneconomic to trade (no 
more than 250 psittacines/500 non-psittacines per shipment or 10 crates per shipment, 
whichever is smaller). Since the proposal provides no minimum standards or guidance, 
any standard proposed by an exporting country will be unfairly measured against the 
reviewer's subjective, not necessarily objective, perception of what is appropriate. 

The proposal would also require consideration of the effect trade might have on 
bird populations in countries other than the country of origin as well as the factors 
occurring in countries not seeking U.S. approval. This approach goes far beyond what is 
provided for in the WBCA or its legislative history. This would impose an unreasonable 
and unnecessary burden on an underdeveloped country to gather data and conduct the 
required impact analysis on other range states when it will experience sufficient difficulties 
in providing data with respect to its own country. 

The bottom line? Simply that adopting unattainable criteria is nothing more than 
a smoke screen ~ it is an effective ban, not a conservation management tool. Flexibility is 
required to assist such underdeveloped countries to develop and implement conservation 
management programs that achieve the intent of the WBCA. PUAC continues to support 
the underlining rational on the WBCA but remains opposed to imposition of complex, 
unattainable criteria on underdeveloped countries or regulatory mechanisms which 
inherently result in impossible compliance. 

Fundamental to the development of such rational and realizable conservation 
management plans is flexibility, cooperation, reasonableness, and consultation. 
Unfortunately, the WBCA is void of any reference mandating "consultation." 
Furthermore, bilateral, not unilateral, consultation and cooperation is essential for the 
WBCA to meet the Congressional intent. Absent inclusion of such language in the 
WBCA, it will not occur as a matter of course. PUAC recommends that the WBCA be 



116 



amended to include consultation language similar to that being considered in modifications 
to the Endangered Species Act. 

In summary, while FWS pays lip service to the WBCA, it has crafted Regulations 
which are totally at odds to the Congressional declaration of intent. 

Approval of Captive-Breeding Facilities 

The proposed mechanism for approving foreign captive breeding facilities is Orwellian 
at best and simply ludicrous. No regulation could be better designed as a disincentive for 
captive breeding than the one proposed here. Moreover, the proposal goes far beyond the 
enabling statute. 

Part of the rationale for the WBCA was the encouragement of captive breeding; the 
requirements proposed by the Department, however, provide one of the greatest disincentives 
to captive breeding one could ever devise. The purpose for qualifying such facilities is clearly 
spelled out in the Congressional history. The Report accompanying the final legislation 
specifically states that: 

It is the intent of the breeders bill to encourage captive breeding both in the 
United States and elsewhere. Concern has been expressed that small breeders 
may wish to ship birds to the United States via larger scale breeders but may be 
precluded fi^om doing so under this Act. It is not the intent of the Committee 
to prohibit such transfers, and the Committee believes that the Secretary has 
suflBcient discretion to allow them under this bill. It is also the intent of the 
Committee that the paperwork burden required of participating captive 
breeding facilities be minimized, especially as it applies to small facilities that 
employ few people. (House Report 102-479 (I) at page 18; emphasis 
supplied). 

In short, the proposed regulations are far more than procedural in nature; they contain 
a number of substantive provisions that go far beyond the enabling legislation and a number of 
proposals are contrary to Congressional intent. The proposal contains various provisions that 
are overbearing and impose inappropriate requirements on foreign governments and are totally 
unwarranted. The proposal hardly encourages captive breeding in foreign facilities, but rather 
creates an isolationist approach that discriminates against foreign breeders. The proposal, if 
adopted in its present form, would result in an unnecessarily arduous and cumbersome process 
adversely affecting not only potential foreign breeding facilities, but also their governments. 
The end result will thus be to thwart the intent of the legislation. 

The proposed regulations would impose on foreign breeders a complex regulatory 
mechanism requiring an overwhelming degree of regulation and unnecessary detail, not 
consistent with the purposes of the Act. Such requirements would include. 



117 



1 . Breeding protocols and genetic management programs. 

2. Description of qualifications and experience of the persons caring for the birds. 

3. Tracking system to trace captive bird progeny after initial sale. 

4. A summary of their nation's legislation implementing CITES. 

5. Production and trade data for two calendar years prior to submission of 
application. 

6. Detailed description of facilities and activities. 

Furthermore, the United States would impose upon foreign governments a number of 
requirements as a condition precedent to approving a breeding facility, such as: 

1 . Implementation of an inspection program. 

2. Verification of data, breeding protocols, and ability of facility to produce the 
projected number of progeny. 

3. Certification that the breeding stock was legally acquired. 

To avoid such complexity, the WBCA requires amendment to facilitate, not deter 
captive breeding. PUAC, therefore, endorses amendment to Section 107 being proposed 
today by the American Federation of Aviculture. 

Thank you very much for providing us this opportunity to testify today. We look 
forward to working with the Committee in resolving problems associated with 
implementation of the WBCA. 



118 



Adina Rae Freedman, CAE 
Executive Director 
Central Office 




Associcftiom of AviciKi \/e\emar\aY\5 

Advancing and Promoting Avian t^edicine and Stewardship 

Statement of Susan L. Clubb, DVM, Dip ABVP - Avian Specialty 

before 

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

COMNDTTEE ON RESOURCES 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS 

SEPTEMBER 28, 1995 

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee: 

It is a great pleasure to be able to testify before your subcommittee on behalf of 
the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) in regard to the Wild Bird Conservation 
Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-440). 

I am a veterinarian working almost exclusively with exotic birds. Specifically I 
currently hoid several employment positions which give me insight into the effects of the 
Wild Bird Conservation Act I am staff veterinarian for Parrot Jungle and Gardens, a bird 
park in Miami Florida. I teach a certification training course for pet retailers for the Pet 
Industry Joint Advisory Council. I do research and product testing for Pretty Bird 
International, a bird food company. I also consult for a Loro Parque, a bird park in Spain 
which would like to export captive bred birds to the US. My husband and I own and 
operate a commercial breeding farm for exotic birds and I have a mobile avicultural 
veterinary practice. 

I represented AAV on the Cooperative Working Group on Bird Trade which 
originally drafted the Exotic Bird Conservation Act. As you may know this original bill 
became hotly contested while under consideration by the House Merchant Marine and 
Fisheries Committee when a second bill was introduced by several animal rights and 
animal protection groups. The result was the Wild Bird Conservation Act. 

The Association of Avian Veterinarians has a very strong conservation ethic as 
evidenced by our stated purpose. AAV supports conservation projects and organizations 
with annual grants equal to 1% of our net income. AAV supported the original draft, the 
Exotic Bird Conservation Act. AAV also supported the passage of the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act, however at the time of passage had some reservations about some 
aspects of the act. Some sections of the Act were perceived as very restrictive and others 



Central Office • PO Box811720 • Boca Raton, FL USA 33481 • (407)393-8901 • Fax (407) 393-8902 

Publications Office • PO Box 618372 • Orlando, FL USA 32861 • (407)521-6101 • Fax (407) 521-6401 

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119 



unnecessary. Since passage of the act however, it is my feeling that the regulations 
promulgated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been excessively restrictive and 
represent an excessive and unnecessary paperwork burden for those who wish to import 
birds under the exemptions provided by the act. Publication of some regulations has also 
been delayed excessively, for example, the Final rule establishing the exemption for 
sustainable utilization has not yet been published, almost 3 years after passage of the act. 

I have several specific areas of concern which I hope will be addressed by the 
Subcommittee. 

First, I am concerned about several specific points in the bill which I feel should be 
revised. Second I am concerned about the regulations as promulgated by the US Fish and 
Wildlife Service which are complex, restrictive, and burdensome. Third, I continue to be 
concerned about the handling of permits by the Service. 

I strongly feel that there are several sections of the WBCA which should be 
revised. 

Section 115: Marking and Record Keeping 

The regulation, ie marking, of captive birds within the United States provides NO 
conservation benefit for birds in the wild. I strongly believe that all birds, both pets and 
avicultural stock, should be marked for health and animal management reasons. On April 
10, 1994 numerous aviculturists demonstrated to the US Fish and Wildlife Service that 
voluntary programs exist and function well. While closed banding is recommended by 
many if not most aviculturists in the US, many veterinarians still routinely remove bands 
for safety reasons. While I disagree, I must respect the opinions of my colleagues. 
Currently, the electronic identification systems available in this country are not compatible 
and are too expensive for widespread use. 

Any system of mandatory marking and reporting would be exorbitantly expensive 
to implement and maintain. Unless a extraordinary public health or animal health reason 
existed the expense of such of program could never be justified. For example, the control 
of Rabies, a major public health concern, requires vaccination and licensing of all dogs and 
cats. This program is intensively managed on a county basis throughout the US. Despite 
costly implementation, compliance is generally 50% or less. This marking section of the 
bill should be removed as it is a point of concern and anxiety for aviculturists, has no 
conservation benefit and is virtually impossible to implement. It is not a deterent to 
smuggling and provides no conservation benefit for wild populations. 

Regarding Section 107: Qualifying Facilities ( for export of captive bred birds to 
the United States), (b) (6) "All birds exported fi-om the facility are bred at the facility." 

This requirement of the WBCA is very restrictive and virtually eliminates the 
potential for economically viable trade in captive bred birds on a commercial basis. As in 
any business enterprise, some volume is necessary for trade to be profitable. Most 



120 



breeding facilities, throughout the world, are small, family owned facilities. Logically, 
they would have great difficulty in dealing with exhaustive paperwork required for 
approval of their facilities. If they could become approved, it is unlikely that they could 
assemble enough birds to make a shipment financially feasible. Separate approvals are 
required for each species. Not only must they meet the requirements of WBCA, but they 
must deal with shipping expenses, quarantine costs as imposed by USDA and must allow a 
margin of profit for the US dealer. If a foreign dealer could coordinate shipments for a 
number of approved breeders, and even assist them in the approval process, economically 
viable trade could occur. Otherwise only the most rare and valuable birds will be traded 
due to the high costs. This serves NO conservation benefit. If the act is to truly enhance 
trade in captive bred birds this section should be removed. The Act specifically allows the 
appropriate foreign governmental authority to certify a facility. This is appropriate and 
should not require extensive regulation by USFWS. 

Legislative history states and I quote "it is the intent of the "bill" to encourage 
captive breeding both in the United States and elsewhere. Concern has been expressed 
that the small scale breeders may wish to ship birds to the United States via larger scale 
breeders, but may be precluded fi-om doing so under this act. It is not the intent of the 
(Congressional) Committee to prohibit such transfers, and the Committee believes that the 
Secretary has sufficient discretion to allow them under this bill. It is also the intent of the 
Committee that the paperwork burden required of participating captive breeding facilities 
be minimized, especially as it applies to small facilities that employ few people." 

My second area of concern is that of oppressive regulation by the USFWS under 
the auspices of the WBCA. For example in Section 107: Qualifying FaciUties - the Act 
has 6 requirements: 

I The facility has demonstrated the capability of producing captive-bred birds of the 
species in numbers to be imported into the US fi'om that facility, 

2. The facility is operated in a manner that is not detrimental to the survival of the species 
in the wild. 

3. The facility is operated in a humane manner. 

4. The appropriate governmental authority of the country in which the facility is located 
has certified in writing and the Secretary is satisfied, that the faciUty has the capability of 
breeding the species in captivity. 

5. The country in which the facility is located is a Party to the Convention. 

6. All the birds exported fi'om the facility are bred at the faciUty. 

The proposed regulations however required the breeder to make 33 statements, including 
but certainly not limited to: A summary of legislation implementing CITES in the country. 



121 



production levels for the last few years and future anticipated production, a breeding 
protocol, genetic management plan, details of breeding techniques, number and origin of 
original stock, statement that the parental stock was established without detriment to the 
survival of the species and certification that original stock was legally acquired, statement 
of anticipated augmentation, descriptions or photos of facilities, husbandry practices, 
veterinary care, records of disease and mortality, qualifications of care takers, record 
keeping systems, trade data and a statement that enforcement controls are in place in the 
country to prevent laundering. The secretary must then use 13 points in evaluation of 
applications. A separate application must be made for each bird. Approval is valid for 2 
years. 

These regulations have been published ONLY as proposed rules, 3 years post 
enactment! It is my understanding that the USFWS received in excess of 5000 letters 
protesting the proposed rules for this section of the Act. 

In recent discussions with Mark Phillips of the USFWS, he stated that as of late 
August 1995, 673 WBCA permit applications have been received and 562 of these have 
been approved. However, 620 or 92% of these applications were for pet birds of US 
citizens returning to the US. 

Final rules implementing other exemptions under the WBCA have been published, 
and they are significantly better that the proposed rules. Compliance with the proposed 
regulations for imports under exemptions for Scientific research. Zoological display and 
Cooperative Breeding programs and imports was virtually impossible especially for the 
average citizen. The Final rule was published on November 16, 1993 and many of the 
almost impossible restrictions were removed, however the final rules is still so oppressive 
that only 53 total permit applications ( 7 for scientific research, 27 for zoos, and 19 for 
cooperative breeding programs and imports) have been received by the service of which 
only 34 (64%) have been approved. It is my behef that the regulations are so complex 
that apphcants are intimidated, afraid to attempt application. These regulations must be 
simplified in order to make the act work. Oppressive regulation has NO conservation 
benefit. The purpose of the act was to limit the massive, unsustainable trade in wild 
caught birds for pets, not to make imports under the exemptions so difficult. 

Sustainable utilization of resources has been widely endorsed by lUCN and other 
global conservation authorities as the primary means of conservation of those resources. 
In an age when the worlds human population continues to squeeze wild areas, adding 
value for the protection of habitat must be paramount. Sustainable utilization of exotic 
birds is the only logical way that this Act will benefit wild populations. Granted the 
reduction of imports into the United States has reduced part of the demand on these 
populations, however, the pressures are still there. Growing human populations, habitat 
destruction, internal trade and trade to other regions of the world continue unabated. The 
concept of the US funding conservation programs in other countries sounds good but is 
illogical in times of fiscal restraints. Despite this, no proposed rules have been published 
for implementation of this section of the Act - three years post enactment. 



122 



My final concern is regarding USFWS handling of permits. I have not personally 
applied for any permits under WBCA, however over the years I have on many occasions 
applied for permits fi-om USFWS for a variety of purposes, mostly for export of captive 
bred birds. I have personally found the Service to be difficult, frequently taking excessive 
time in permit processing. On permit applications requiring a foreign import permit which 
is valid for 6 months, the foreign permit frequently expires before a decision is rendered by 
the Service. The Service "appears" to be distrustful of its foreign counterparts despite the 
fact that they are Parties to the Convention and duly authorized. I am VERY concerned 
that this type of handling of other permits will carry over into handling of WBCA permits. 
I can provide examples upon request. With the complexity of the permitting process, 
timely handling of WBCA applications seems to be even more difficult. 

In closing 1 would like to reiterate that the Association of Avian Veterinarians and 
I personally, endorse the purpose and spirit of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. We are 
committed to the conservation of birds in the wild and to the establishment of species in 
captivity. We are concerned however about some aspects of the WBCA as outlined above 
and request consideration of amendment. We are also very concerned by the complex and 
restrictive regulations of the USFWS, the tardiness of promulgation of regulations for 
some vitally important sections of the act and their general demeanor in dealing with the 
public regarding permits. 

The subcommittee report should include language which will convey to the 
USFWS the intent to limit excessive paperwork, to hmit regulation to only that which is 
necessary and to utilize the expertise of foreign CITES authorities in certification of 
foreign captive breeding facilities. 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me here today. I am happy to answer any 
questions you may have now or later. 



123 



WRITTEN TESTIMONY PRESENTED ON BEHALF OF PRIVATE 
AVICULTURE OF THE UNITED STATES 



For The 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON HSHERIES, 
WILDLIFE & OCEANS 

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Hl-805 O'NEILL HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING 

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515 

Concerning 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 
P.L. 102-440 



WRITTEN TESTIMONY BY 

The American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. 

Laurella Desborough, 
President 

Rick Jordan, Robert J. Beny 

First Vice-President Executive Director 

Gary P. Lilienthal, Benny J. Gallaway, Ph.D. 

Vice-President and General Counsel Director of Conservation 

TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE PRESENTED BY 

Gary P. Lilienthal 

Vice-President and General Counsel 

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE, INC. 

P.O. BOX 56218 

PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85079-6218 

(602) 484-0931 



28 September 1995 



124 



INTRODUCTION 

On July 29, 1992, the Report of the House of Representatives on H.R. 5013 was 
referred jointly to the Committees on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and Ways and 
Means of the House of Representatives. In that Report on what was to become the 
Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 ("WBCA"), the Honorable Walter B. Jones of 
North Carolina stated that "It is the intent of the Breeder's Bill to encourage captive 
breeding both in the United States and elsewhere" [emphasis added]. It is the 
perception of private aviculture that the WBCA, which became P.L. 102-440 on 
October 23, 1992, has failed that charge from the Congress in several key areas. Prior 
to addressing these areas, permit us to define ourselves and our position. 

Aviculturists in the private sector are generally individuals who have a 
genuine appreciation for and fascination with birds. They keep, study, breed and 
raise exotic birds in captivity either as a devoted avocation or commercial activity. 
The majority of private aviculturists recognize their stewardship responsibilities 
and are deeply concerned over dwindling wild populations of avian species and are 
sincerely dedicated to their conservation both in the wild and in captivity. Indeed, 
the mission statement of the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) is "To 
preserve avian species on a worldwide basis". Aviculture has a commitment to 
establishing self-sustaining populations in captivity as well as habitat preservation 
and other conservation efforts in countries of origin. Aviculture believes that 
captive breeding is a valuable asset in conservation strategy by helping reduce 
demands on wild populations by virtue of making exotic birds readily available 
from captive-bred sources. Aviculture actively supports avian research resulting in 
improved knowledge and understanding of avian species. Aviculture is both a 
conservation and humanitarian effort. Aviculture represents grassroots 
participation at its best. Aviculture, as a cottage industry, contributes to taxes and 
the economy without cost to the government. 

In this forum, AFA, a non-profit organization, is representing the private 
aviculture sector. When this testimony was submitted, nearly 300 organizations 
had joined with AFA's testimony or had requested to be listed as supporting the 
testimony. Our constituents include people ranging from pet bird owners to 
commercial exotic bird breeders. Pet birds are represented in 6 to 10% of the 
households in the United States and the population of pet birds is estimated to be on 
the order of 14 to 30 rrvillion birds. Commercial aviculture exists mainly in the form 
of many thousands of small businesses but, collectively, the industry is large, on the 
order of $543.4 million in annual sales. 

Aviculture has historically acknowledged that intense pressures have been 
and are being placed on exotic (non-native to the United States) bird populations by 
a number of sources. Devastating habitat destruction, hunting for food and feathers 
and local use as pets, natural predation, planned programs of eradication in 
countries of origin, smuggling and, prior to WBCA, unregulated trade, were and 
continue to be grave concerns. While most of these pressures continue (trade with 



125 



the United States for most CITES^ -listed species having been eliminated by the 
WBCA), aviculture is committed to the concept of sustainable yield, the 
conservation of exotic birds in their natxiral habitats and in captivity, and the strict 
regulation of international trade in wild-caught birds for the pet market. 

Aviculture was, in fact, one of the original participants of the Cooperative 
Working Group on the Bird Trade, organized by World Wildlife Fund. As part of 
this Group, aviculture formally acknowledged in 1988 the need for a regulated, 
sustainable trade in and wise use of wild-caught exotic birds in order to make them 
valuable assets in their countries of origin, and to promote saving them and their 
habitats. Aviculture also pointed out the need to address concerns regarding 
planned programs of avian eradication in coimtries of origin. Certain species of 
birds are seen not as resources to be used as economic incentives in their range 
coimtries but are considered pests to be destroyed. 

In 1992, aviculture supported the concept of the WBCA. As part of that Act, 
aviculture stressed the need to promote, encourage, and facilitate captive breeding of 
exotic birds in the U.S. and abroad. Aviculture supported the WBCA based, in part, 
upon the understanding that one cornerstone would be the free trade in captive- 
bred exotic birds. Congress agreed, by enacting P.L. 102-440 which attempted to (1) 
insure that trade in wild-caught exotic birds involving the United States would be 
biologically sustainable and not detrimental to wild populatioris and (2) promote the 
role of captive breeding or aviculture to supply trade requirements as an alternative 
to harvest from the wild. 

Even now, private aviculture is not in favor of repealing the WBCA. 
Aviculturists believe their stewardship obligation requires that trade in wild-caught 
birds involving the U.S. should be biologically sustainable and not detrimental to 
wild populations. It is the position of aviculture, however, that the WBCA has 
failed to fulfill its promise and the mandate of Congress in a number of significant 
respects, particularly those relating to population studies in countries of origin and 
undue regulation of trade in captive-bred exotic birds. Regulation of legitimate 
captive-bred exotic birds has nothing to do with wild populations of exotic birds. 
We define specific problems and offer some serisible solutions below. 

AVICULTURE'S RECOMMENDATIONS 

Trade in Wild-Caught Exotic Birds 

The first concern is that the WBCA and Regulations developed by the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have resulted in an almost total ban on 
importation of exotic birds into the United States — even captive-bred birds. The 
WBCA had two primary goals. The first goal of the WBCA was to insure that trade 
in wild-caught exotic birds involving the U.S. would be biologically sustainable and 
not detrimental to wild populations. Congress, in 1992, recognized that well 



^ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 



126 



designed and comprehensive studies in the countries of origin would be needed to 
achieve the first goal, and authorized $5 million in fiscal years 1993, 1994, and 1995 
for this purpose. To date, orUy $1 million has been actually appropriated and these 
funds were for CITES permits and law enforcement. There has been no request by 
the Clinton Administration nor money appropriated for the WBCA for the past two 
fiscal years. Thus, the population studies necessary to establish exotic birds as 
sustainable and valuable assets in their countries of origin are not being conducted. 
However, trade between these countries and foreign countries other than the U.S. 
continues to the detriment of the wild populations. The WBCA is clearly failing to 
achieve its intended conservation role. While the U.S. is no longer a consumer of 
wild birds, the reversal of its commitment to fund the required population studies 
leaves the U.S. directly accountable for the ultimate decline and extinction of exotic 
bird populations. This reversal of stated intent has caused aviculture to have 
serious doubts as to the real gocds of special-interest groups who endorse the WBCA 
as "an exemplary piece of coriservation legislation that places the U.S., formerly the 
world's largest cor\sumer of wild birds, at the forefront of efforts to conserve these 
magnificent species". Aviculture disagrees. The only accomplishments have been 
to mislead the American public and our CITES partners that U.S. aid would be 
forthcoming emd to create a virtual total ban on all CITES exotic bird importation 
into the U.S. We recommend that Congress: 

1. Appropriate the funds authorized or direct USFWS to allocate existing 
budgetary resources to support and conduct sustainable-use research progrants in 
exotic-bird range countries — studies which incorporate scientifically-sound 
protocols. 

Aviculture concurs with the underlying premise of the WBCA that sound 
scientific iriformation is required before exotic birds can be safely harvested from the 
wild for the purpose of trade or any other reason. The requisite information is 
uniformly lacking, including data necessary to evaluate the presently popular 
concept of ranching (harvesting so-called excess production resulting from 
placement of artificial nest boxes). Before any sustainable harvest strategy can be 
evaluated, studies must be conducted which incorporate the scientific concepts of 
controls and replication in periods both before and after a management experiment 
is conducted. Such studies would require significant funding levels and time 
frames on the order of 6 to 10 years. Few, if any, have been initiated and none of the 
committed funding has been provided. Thus, the existing ban has no end in sight 
and the birds and their habitats have, in essence, been abandoned. 

2. Conduct an investigation of the actual scope of the smuggling problem 
involving the U.S. and an investigation of the USFWS enforcement activities. 

The only funds appropriated for the WBCA to date have been for law 
enforcement. The perception that high levels of smuggling are occurring is the 
justification for these expenditures. In 1987, Thomsen and Hemley (World Wildlife 
Fimd/Traffic, U.S.A.) stated in Bird Trade... Bird Bans that as many as 150,000 parrots 



127 



may be smuggled across the Mexico border into the United States every year. In 
contrast, between 1991 and 1994, it has been reported that a total of only 573 birds 
were confiscated by the U.S. law enforcement agencies at that border. While it is not 
suggested that only 573 birds were smuggled in a four year period, there is clearly a 
huge credibihty crisis here. 

Aviculture and aviculturists do not support smuggling, laundering or other 
illegal activities. Aviculturists abhor smuggling. In fact, AFA has produced and 
furnished to the USFWS a bilingual anti-smuggling poster on parrots for the United 
States /Mexican border. At the very height of avicultural concerns is that smuggled 
birds jeopardize the health of avicultural collections with disease. 

The USFWS Division of Law Enforcement has told Congress of intensive and 
expansive enforcement activities. USFWS conducts sting operations and publicizes 
indictments. Through as little as hearsay or rumor, come undeserved arrests, broad 
search warrants and unwarranted confiscation of birds (in some cases having led to 
the deaths of the birds, even rare birds). Many of the resulting charges involve only 
paperwork or other minor technical violations. Aviculturists are intimidated by 
such events, even when not directly involved. Certainly, smugglers should be 
prosecuted, but there appears to be a deliberate effort to expand enforcement to 
entrap irmocent aviculturists and to place a stigma on all aviculture. 

Aviculturists would like to work with USFWS to stop the real smuggling of 
exotic birds, but until USFWS Division of Law Enforcement stops seeing all 
aviculturists as potential smugglers or law breakers, this will be impossible. On a 
positive note, recently a new Chief has been appointed at USFWS Office of 
Management Authority and he has reached out to the avicultural community. 
Aviculture believes that this is signaling a new era of cooperation and 
understanding between USFWS and aviculture. Aviculture welcomes this. 
Hopefully, this outreach will expand to law enforcement. 

3. Amend Section 105(c), "Moratoria on Imports of Exotic Birds Covered by 
Convention", to clarify that exotic birds covered on Appendix III of the Convention 
shall only be subject to the WBCA as to those species found in the country of 
Appendix III listing. 

After adoption of the WBCA, anti-trade activists took the USFWS to Federal 
Court to effectively include in the WBCA birds listed on CITES Appendix m (that is 
birds listed specifically as to certain countries of origin, but not as to all CITES parties 
at large), regardless of their country of origin or listing. The anti-trade plaintiffs 
alleged that this was justified because the WBCA failed to make a distinction 
between birds listed on Appendix III which are country-specific, and the same 
species occurring in non-listing countries. Under CITES, birds listed on Appendix HI 
are only included within the CITES Treaty for specific countries where the species 
may be rare and not as to other countries of origin where the species may be 
abundant. Appendix HI listed birds are not endangered or threatened species. They 
are merely birds in which specific countries, but not CITES at large, do not wish to 



128 



trade. The court has held that the WBCA made no such distinction even though it 
may have intended to do so. 

Section 105(c) should have appropriate wording added to effectively limit the 
coverage of the WBCA of Appendix in birds to wild exotic birds originating in the 
country of listing only. 

4. Amend Section 112(2) "Exemptions for Personal Pets" by requiring the 
USFWS to issue regulations simplifying the importation of pet birds. 

The WBCA allows that an individual may import up to two exotic birds in 
any year upon his/her return to the United States after having been continuously 
out of the country for a minimum of one year. Issuance of such pennits should be 
based upon nothing more than an affidavit from the applicant that he/she has met 
the out-of-country requirement, has not exceeded the allowable two birds, has 
acquired the birds legally, has the proper CITES or other required permits, and that 
the intent of the importation is not for re-sale purposes. The requisite permits 
would be attached to the affidavit. Abuse of the "personal pet" exemption is 
unlikely to ever reach proportions that will be detrimental to wild populations. 
Presently, due to the relatively large number of personal pet versus other 
applications, and the complexity of the existing information requirements, it is 
likely that a large fraction of available USFWS staff time is spent in processing 
innocuous pet-bird permits. As a result, more significant and complex permit 
applications experience unacceptably-long delays. 

5. Amend Regulations under Section 112(4), "Cooperative Breeding 
Programs", to eliminate the requirements imposed by the USFWS under the 
Regulations that participants be required to "track the whereabouts of progeny of 
imported birds." 

In its Report, Page 20, Congress directed the Secretary to issue permits if the 
applicant Cem demor^strate that he or she is capable cmd fully intends to keep track of 
imported birds and their offspring. The purpose of this requirement was to ensure 
that if efforts to reintroduce the species into the wild were undertaken, the location 
of birds that might be included in such a program and their genetic makeup would 
be known. However, upon reflection, aviculture believes that WBCA regulations 
requiring the tracking of the progeny will act as an impediment to aviculturists 
participating in captive breeding of captive-bred offspring of birds imported under 
Section 112. Additionally, due to the breeding biology of many of these species, this 
could eventually lead to the tracking of hundreds, or even thousands, in the case of 
more prolific species, of birds and will be totally unworkable and unmanageable. It 
also introduces the specter of unwarremted law enforcement activities involving 
U.S. captive-bred exotic birds. Certainly, cooperative breeding programs will 
encourage the participation of aviculturists in continuing to breed captive-bred 
offspring of imported cooperative breeding program birds. However, if these 
programs become successful in producing large numbers of offspring, regulation 
requiring tracking of captive-bred offspring will deter avicultural breeding efforts. It 



129 



will also remove the incentive for cooperative breeding programs, which is to have 
as many participants working with and producing as many captive-bred offspring 
from cooperative breeding program imported birds as possible. The USFWS has 
already seen this deterrence of captive breeding under the CBW (Captive Bred 
Wildlife) Program under the Endangered Species Act. This program requires 
tracking of captive-bred endangered species and has deterred broad participation and 
is actually shutting down breeding progran\s for endangered species due to the 
limited numbers of aviculturists willing to register with the government. The 
WBCA itself under Section 112(4)(A) only required the promotion of conservation 
of the species by enhancing the propagation and survival of the species. It was the 
Report which contemplated the tracking of progeny for future release programs. At 
this time it is more important to encourage propagation of these species than it is to 
track the whereabouts of offspring for release programs which may be decades away. 
If these programs are successful, the whereabouts of captive-bred cooperative 
breeding program species will be well known in aviculture and the deregulation of 
progeny will actually serve as a greater incentive for wider participation by 
aviculturists in promoting captive breeding of cooperative breeding program 
progeny. 

Trade in Captive-Bred Birds 

Captive breeding of exotic birds was already dramatically increasing between 
1985 and 1992, prior to the WBCA, due to advancements in and education by the 
groups joining in this testimony about exotic avian science, veterinary techniques, 
diet and husbandry and increased interest and participation in aviculture. Captive- 
bred birds were and continue to be naturally replacing wild-caught birds for the pet 
trade. The WBCA has had little to do with the increase in breeding of exotic avian 
species. On the other hand, the inability of aviculture to import even captive-bred 
exotic birds since adoption of the WBCA is already having a detrimental effect on 
avicultural activities. While avicultiire has the ability to fill a great deal of the void 
created by the WBCA in the pet trade supply, it must be given the tools to continue 
to do so. Foreign breeders of exotic birds have different gene pools and species 
needed by U.S. aviculture. Shipping mortality of captive-bred birds is far below the 
14% level reported for wild-caught exotic birds. The prohibitive WBCA regulatory 
structure, especially with respect to the ability of aviculturists to import captive-bred 
exotic birds, is deterring avicultural pursuits both in supplying the pet trade and in 
creating self-sustaining populations of exotic birds for preservation of rare and 
endangered species. This was not the intent of the WBCA. 

Aviculture is gravely concerned that without swift and decisive action by 
Congress, the WBCA will continue to fail aviculture in the U.S. and abroad as it 
relates to trade in captive-bred birds. For aviculture, this is the most important part 
of the current oversight and reauthorization process. The WBCA must 
acknowledge the legitimacy of aviculture if captive-bred birds are to replace wild- 
caught birds in trade. Aviculture respectfully requests that Congress amend the 
WBCA and give direction to the USFWS as summarized below. 



130 



6. Amend Section 107, "Qualifying Facilities", and require the USFWS to 
issue regulations which will promote the captive breeding of exotic birds in the 
United States and foreign countries and insure the free importation of captive bred 
exotic birds into the United States as a tool to promote aviculture and exotic bird 
conservation, and to control illegal trade. 

On March 17, 1994, the USFWS proposed complicated and intrusive 
regulations under Section 107 as a precondition to allowing captive-bred birds to be 
imported into the United States. The draft regulations were so unworkable and 
intrusive that they resulted in a massive outcry from aviculture. Unfortunately, no 
final regulations have been adopted. Therefore, it is impossible for Congress to 
review these during this oversi^t process. The draft regulations as proposed would 
surely have deterred captive breeding and would certainly not have promoted it. 
They were also hypocritical. The USFWS requires only a simple affidavit of captive- 
breeding to allow CiltS-listed birds bred in the United States to be exported from 
the United States. The regulation of legitimate captive-bred birds has nothing to do 
with wild exotic bird populations. It was not the intent of the WBCA to regulate 
captive-bred birds. The fear of "laundering" (trading in wild-caught birds alleging 
they are captive-bred) is used to justify the proposal of overly restrictive regulations 
to control importation of captive-bred birds. This is neither appropriate nor 
acceptable. 

Currently, WBCA Section 107 is a simple section for which the USFWS has 
proposed complicated and excessive regulations requiring, among other things, 
disclosure of proprietary husbandry and breeding ii\formation, proof of origin of 
breeding stock, cage sizes, diet and other detaul in such a way as to deter any but the 
largest captive breeding facilities with huge staffs from qualifying. This will not 
insure agaii\st laundering, but will effectively eliminate from trade most captive 
breeding facilities which do not have the staff or funds to complete and furnish the 
paperwork which the USFWS requires. This was not the intent of Congress which 
stated in the Report "It is also the intent of the Committee that the paperwork 
burden required of captive breeding facilities be miiumized, especially cts it applies to 
small facilities that employ few people." Report page 18. This directive was either 
missed or disregarded by the USFWS in its proposed regulations. The regulations as 
proposed will even discourage participation by larger facilities which might comply 
with reasonable and workable regulations as a cost of trade with the United States. 
Most individuals would sooner pursue unregulated trade with other countries 
rather them comply with unworkable or intnisive U.S. regulations and delays. 

Aviculture requests that the WBCA be amended and that Congress instruct 
the USFWS to effectively allow and promote the importation of captive-bred birds 
under Section 107, as follows: 

(i) Require an affidavit from the facility of breeding that birds to be 
imported were bred from parents housed at the facility. 



131 



(ii) Require that birds to which an affidavit pertains be marked with a 
simple marking system for identification. 

(iii) Require a certificate by a licensed veterinarian that the facility contains 
an adequate number of pairs to supply birds in the numbers to be exported and is 
operated humanely. 

(iv) Require local CITES management authority certification that the 
operation of that facility does not deplete birds in the wild. 

(v) Provide the USFWS with a quota option on a facility-by-facility basis to 
be used to guard against laundering. 

(vi) Provide that ovymers of a facility proved to be laundering birds to the 
United States shall forever lose their right to export birds to the United States. 

7. Amend Section 106(b)(1), "List of Approved Species", to clarify that 
Congress did not intend for species regularly bred in captivity and for which no 
wild-caught birds of the species are in "trade", did not mean that if any of a regularly 
captive-bred species are in illegal trade, the species would not then qualify as 
regularly bred in captivity. 

The USFWS, in promulgating its Regulations, added the words "legal or 
illegal" to modify the word "trade" when determining whether or not species 
regularly bred in captivity and of which no wild-caught birds were in "trade" would 
qualify under the List of Approved Species. It is both unreasonable and an 
inappropriate conservation measure to add the words "illegal or legal" when 
describing trade in determining whether birds regularly bred in captivity would 
quaUfy as approved species. The fact that some number of birds of a given species 
may be in illegal trade should not preven, birds regularly bred in captivity and for 
which wild-caught individuals are not generally in the pet trade from being 
approved species imder Section 106(b)(1). In fact, withholding from the Approved 
Species List species regularly bred in captivity merely because some of those species 
may be in illegal trade will actually serve as an incentive for continued smuggling. 
If birds regularly bred in captivity are on the Approved List, then they will be readily 
available to the trade and the smuggled bird will not be at a premium. In fact, in the 
Report, on Page 17, Congress stated, in reflecting on the Approved Species List of the 
New York State Wild Bird Law that "...certain species are exempted from the 
banding requirement because virtually all of the specimens of those species in trade 
have been captive-bred" [emphasis added]. It is clear that Congress intended the 
Secretary to use the criteria used for the New York State Law which makes no 
distinction for birds regularly bred in captivity not qualifying because some were or 
might be in illegal trade. In the Report, Page 17, Congress stated that the Secretary 
should "...include such species on the Approved List under this Section as long as 
the Secretary believes that trade based on these standards would not result in harm 
to species in the wild." As previously stated, to keep species regularly bred in 
captivity off the Approved List because some of those species may be in illegal trade 
will actually serve to encourage illegal trade and perpetuate harm to those species in 
the wild. 



132 



Congress is requested to clarify this problem either by direction to the 
Secretary to take appropriate action to delete the word "illegal" from the Regvilations 
under the WBCA or by Congress inserting in (b)(1) of 106 of the WBCA the word 
"legal" before the word "trade". 

8. Amend Section 114(c) by deleting the same. 

As directed under Section 114(c), USFWS held an open meeting in 
Washington on April 7, 1995. It is aviculture's understanding that the USFWS has 
reported, or will soon report to Congress that government controlled marking 
programs and facility certification are not necessary. Aviculture strongly objected to 
these provisions in 1992 and their adoption in the WBCA has served as a source of 
stress and concern to aviculture since that time. Aviculture is relieved to hear of 
USFWS findings because aviculture has always believed these sections were 
impediments to a viable WBCA and to a good working relationship between the 
avicultural commimity and the USFWS. Aviculture is appreciative of the USFWS' 
direction in this area. 

9. Delete Section 115 in its entirety. 

Based on the above, we assume that the Secretary has determined that it will 
not be either helpful or of any productive purpose to require marking and 
recordkeeping of exotic birds already in captivity in the United States. In fact, this 
provision is unworkable and would deter captive breeding which is specifically 
prohibited in Section 115(b) in any event. Not only would this provision deter 
aviculture, but, if pursued, would involve the expense of millions of tax dollars for 
no productive purpose and bring urmecessary enforcement scrutiny to U.S. captive 
breeding efforts. The purpose of the WBCA was to coriserve birds in the wild, not 
control breeding in the private sector. 

10. Add a new section to the WBCA providing that exotic birds hatched from 
parental breeding stock in the United States shall be deemed legal notwithstanding 
any other law, regulation or policy to the contrary. 

It is currently the policy of the USFWS that any exotic bird hatched in this 
covmtry that represent progeny of illegally-imported parental stock, no matter how 
many generations ago, is in and of itself illegal and subject to seizure and 
confiscation proceedings. In other words, all domestically-hatched offspring of any 
illegally imported birds are also illegal. Under this policy, if parental stock were 
illegally imported and the offspring were a product of five generations of captive 
breeding in the United States or elsewhere, all of those captive-bred generations 
would be considered illegal by the USFWS. Thus, aviculturists attempting to buy 
even U.S. captive-bred birds still must be concerned that if originally imported 
parental stock of any prior generation were illegal, their domestically-bred birds 
could be subject to seizure and confiscation. Congress should effectively create a 
new section by amendment to the WBCA declaring that all birds documented as 
hatched of parental stock in the United States are legal notwithstanding the 



133 



provision of any other law. The United States government grants citizenship to the 
children of illegal aliens born in the United States, yet the USFWS has determined 
as a matter of policy that exotic birds bom in the United States of parental stock 
v^hich may have been illegally imported are not legal. This policy is so preposterous 
that it could even pertain to originally imported birds deemed illegal due to 
inappropriate paperwork, improper shipment or other technical violations of law. 
There is no reasonable basis to have any uncertainty of the legal status of birds 
hatched from parents located in the United States. Such a policy punishes the U.S. 
hatched birds and their honest owners. 

11. Continue Congressional Oversight. 

Finally, Congress must retain oversight of the WBCA. Aviculture asks that 
in April of 1997 Congress again hold an oversight hearing on the WBCA. We ask 
that between now and that date Congress, through the staff of this Subcommittee, 
monitor the regulations and the progress of the USFWS in making P.L. 102-440 
function as the WBCA. 

CONCLUSION 

On behalf of aviculture in the United States, the AFA is honored to have had 
this opportunity to share its concerns about the WBCA with the Subcommittee. 
Aviculture wishes to have an effective, fair and properly functioning WBCA which 
will accomplish its goals. Programs for sustainable trade and aviculture are 
independent, but critically important to one another. We cannot trust one without 
the other to effectively save birds and each, if properly promoted, will have side 
benefits in addition to saving and preserving exotic avian species. Sustainable trade 
and giving value to trade in wild birds will be an incentive to preserve habitat. 
Aviculture and promoting the captive breeding of avian species will have the effect 
of creating sustainable gene pools of these species, allowing us to better understand 
their biology. Captive breeding of exotic birds in the U.S. reduces the demand on 
wild populations to supply trade. Additionally, the incentive to smuggle exotic 
birds is reduced with the rearing of each and every captive-bred exotic bird produced 
in a U.S. aviary. The avicultural organizations and people joining in this testimony 
on behalf of U.S. aviculture are themselves the stewards of exotic birds; they educate 
the public about how important it is that these birds be saved, both in captivity and 
in the wild; and they furnish pet birds for human companionship. We ask that 
Congress help us, aviculture, in our efforts to face this task. Make the WBCA a 
workable conservation and humanitarian tool, not one which obstructs 
conservation and humanitarian pursuits. 

Respectfully Submitted on Behalf of Aviculture 

By the American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. 

and by the Following Avicultural Organizations and 

Concerned Parties in Support of Aviculture 



10 



184 



AVICULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS JOINING IN AFA'S TESTIMONY 



American Lory 

Society 
Pionus Breeders 

Association 
The Gnninerdal 

Psittadne 

Breeders 
Model Aviculture 

Program 

New Mexico Bird 

aub,Inc 
Suncoast Avian 

Society 
Aviary and Cage 

Bird Society of 

Southern Florida 
Chester County 

Permsylvaiua 

Bird Breeders 
Maine State Cage 

Bird Society 
Ventura County 

Bird Club 
Finch Society of San 

Diego County 
National Capital 

Bird Club 
Acadiana Bird 

Qub, Inc. 
Orange County Bird 

Breeders 
South Bay Bird 

Qub 
Front Range Avian 

Society 
Santa Barbara Bird 

Qub 
Imperial Bird Qub 
Greater Pittsburgh 

Cage Bird Qub 
Rose City Exotic 

Bird Club 
Southern Maryland 

Cage Bird Club 
South Bay Bird 

Qub 
Greater Brandon 

Avian Society 
Aviary and Cage 

Bird Society of 

South Ronda 
Reno Area Avian 

Enthusiasts 
West Pasco Exotic 

Bird Club 
Delaware Valley 

Bird Club 
Arizona 

Avicultural 

Society 
Colorado Cage Bird 

Association 
Palmetto Cage Bird 

Qub 
Erie Cage Bird Qub 
Black Hills Cage 

Bird Club 



Aviculture Society 

of America 
Natiorul Colorbred 

Association 
International 

Loriinae Society 
International 

Aviculturists 

Society 



Kenosha Exotic 

Bird Qub 
Alaska Bird Club 
South Mississippi 

Cage Bird Soaety 
Central New York 

Cage Bird Club 
Bayou Bird Club 
Arizona Avian 

Breeders 

Association 
Gulf Coast Bird 

Qub 
Greater Rochester 

Hookbill 

Association 
Kentuckiana Cage 

Bird Club 
Rocket City Cage 

Bird Club 
Central Kentucky 

Cage Bird Soaety 
Gainesville Bird 

Fanciers 
Bird Lovers of the 

Bluegrass, Inc 
West VaUey Bird 

Society 
Kentuckiana Bird 

Society of 

Aviculture 
Connecticut 

Association for 

Aviculture 
Tampa Bay Bird 

Qub 
Sunshine State Cage 

Bird Society 
The Society for 

Conservation in 

Aviculture- 
England 
Contra Costa Avian 

Society 
Sussex County 

Exotic Bird Club 
Central Florida 

Bird Breeders Inc. 
Central Jersey Bird 

Qub 
Northeastern 

Avicultural 

Society 
Alamo uhibition 

Bird Club 
Contra Coast 

Aviculture 

Society 



Florida Federation 

of Avian Societies 

(>50 Clubs) 
Interruitional 

Parrotlet Society 
Waxbill and Parrot 

FiiKh Society 



Philadelphia 

Avicultural 

Society 
Central Jersey Bird 

Qub 
Central California 

Avian Society 
Real Macaw Parrot 

Qub 
Delaware Valley 

Bird Club 
Oklahoma Cage 

Bird Society 
York Area Pet Bird 

Qub 
Town and Country 

Feathered Friends 
Cleburne Bird 

Society 
Rocky Mountain 

Society 
Alamo uchibition 

Bird Club, Inc. 
Cream Qty 

Feathered Friends 
West Florida Avian 

Society 
Bird Education and 

Kaffee Klatch 

Society 
Missouri Cage Bird 

Association 
San Diego Bird 

Breeders 
Gateway Parrot 

Qub 
Raleigh Durham 

Caged Bird 

Society 
Tennessee Vailey 

Exotic Bird Club 
Tropical Bird 

Fanciers 
North West Ohio 

Exotic Bird Club 
Central Oklahoma 

Bird Club 
Feathered Friends 

Society 
Madison Area Cage 

Bird Association 

of Wisconsin 
Saginaw VaUey 

Bird Club 
Arizona Aviculture 

Society 
Exotic Cage Bird 

Society of New 

Englaitd 



National Finch and 

Softbill Society 
Society of Parrot 

Breeders and 

Exhibitors 
American Cockatiel 

Society 



L'Oisellerie de 

L'Estrie of 

Quebec 
Rhode Island Pet 

Bird Club 
Hookbill Hobbyists 

of Southern 

California 
B C Cage Bird Club 
Central Texas Bird 

Society 
Aviculturists of 

Greater Boston, 

Inc 
Central Oklahoma 

Bird Qub 
Northwest Bird 

Club 
Foothill Bird 

Fanciers 
Arizona 

Seedcrackers 

Society 
Kansas Aviculture 

Society, Itk. 
Parrot Breeders 

Association of 

Virginia 
Treasury Coast 

Exotic Bird Club 
Gold Country Bird 

Society 
Monterey Bay Cage 

Bird Qub 
Capital City Cage 

Bird Quo, Austin 
Golden Gate Avian 

Society 
Capitol City Bird 

Society, 

Sacramento 
Texas Bird Breeders 

Fanciers 

Association 
Camden Mississippi 

Bird Club 
Redwood Empire 

Cage Bird Club 
Northeastern 

Pennsylvatua 

Cage Bird Qub 
Central 

Pennsylvania 

Cage Bird Qub 
Federation of 

Pennsylvaiua 

Aviculturists 
Finger Lakes Cage 

Bird Association 



11 



135 



AVICULTURISTS AND COMMERCIAL ORGANIZATIONS WHICH HAVE 
REQUESTED TO BE RECORDED IN SUPPORT OF AFA'S TESTIMONY 



Mountain View 

Aviary 
The Feather Fancy 
Sybil's Aviary & 

Supply 
Thefeu-d 

Endowment 
A.B.C. Bird Center 
Pacific Bird & 

Supply Co., Inc. 
Morning Star 

Aviary 
Parrots of Pine 

Island 
Pearly Gates 

Aviaries 
The Grey Place 
Wings & Whiskers 
Flying "B" Bird 

Ranch 
T's from 2 
Lannom Farms 
Blynn Sanford Inc. 
Bemies Birds 
V.I.P. Aviaries 
Ceasar Enterprise 
Acrey Aviary 

Products 
Honda Baby 

Parrots 
Pats Bird House 
O.P.IS 

Robert John, D.V.M. 
Flo's Fancy Flights 
Canary Land Bird 

Farm 
Swelland's Cage & 

Stipply 
J&W Aviaries 
DL Products 
Bird City U.SA. 
MG Industries 
Bird's Haven, Inc. 
Parrot Express Inc. 
On Wings, Inc. 



Robbies Feed & 

Supply Co. 
NorshoreBird 

Supply Inc 
D's Bird House 
Animal Medical 

Center, Lake 

Charles 
Backwoods 

Aviaries 
Avian Acres 
Chris Davis Animal 

Behaviorist 
R.L. Enterprises 
Bess Breeder's 
Elain's Originals 
Verde S<juirts 

Aviaries 
Casa de Papaguyous 
Majestic Mai\zanita 
L&D Sales 
Bird Works So. C.A. 
The Bud, Bird and 

Bunny Farm 
Walt's Cockatiels 
Mr. Reynoso Bird 

Factory 
Wings and Fins 
D&M Bird Ranch 
Smelt Feed & Pet 

Supply Inc. 
Deedee Grizzard 
Luv Them Birds Inc. 
African Queen 

Aviary 
Carolina Cage 

Company 
Intemabonal Pet & 

Supply Inc. 
Zoological Bird 

Imports 
Brandywine Aviary 
Fine Feathered 

Friends 
Birds by Veta 
The Bird Lady 



Johnson's Jungle 
Red Color Canaries 
Feathers Plus 
Butler's Breeders 
Wee Bird Farm 
Cairns Enterprises 
The Exotic Bird 

House Aviary 
John Singleton 

Breeder 
The Feather Tree 
Marquez Feather 

Farm 
Coast to Coast 
Avian IV 
Beak Boutique 
Rubi Birds 
Vales Aviaries 
Precious Cargo 
John & Linda's 

Aviary 
W.A.W. Aviaries 
The Feather Fantasy 
Out on a Limb 

Aviary 
Sun Seed Company, 

Inc. 
West Esplanade 

Vetennary Clinic 
C & D Aviary 
T & D Breeding 
Central Horida 

Exotics, Inc. 
Tucker Farms 
Birds by Veta Too 
The Macaw Project 
Gonzele's Pet Shop 
San Juan Aviary 
English's Parakeets 
Imperial Gardens 
Avian Magic 
Stuff for Birds 
Ruthledge Aviaries 
Golden Wing Ranch 



Robert A. Berry 

Assoc. 
St. Fr«mcis Aviaries 
Flights of Fancy 
Sonj's Tropics 
Casa de Papagallos 
Ortmanlnc. 
Bowman's Birds of 

Paradise 
The Pet Ranch 
Skyline Garden 

Avian Research 
Landvater's Land of 

Birds 
Mar's Animal Farm 
Hagen's Avicultural 

Research Institute 

(HARI) Canada 
Dennis Bart 

(Breeder) 
William R. Horton 

(Breeder) 
Suzanne V. Tyson, 

DVM 
Joe Freed's Avian 

Petiatric Supply 
ABCDE Animal 

Clinic, Pam 

Hendrickson, 

DVM 
Lyon Electric 

Company Inc. 
Premium Nutritional 

Products 
Pretty Bird 

International, Inc. 



12 



136 

SUPPLEMENTAL LIST OF SUPPORTERS 



Avicultural Orj>anizations 

American Cockatiel Society, Inc. 
Asiatic Parrot Society 

Dallas C^e Bird Society 
Bird Owners of Texas 
Central Coast Avicultural Society 
Motor City Bird Breeders, Inc. 



Corporate and Private Organizations 

Parrot Peak Preserve 
Avian Acres 
Aves International 
Kaytee Products, Inc. 
Voren's Aviaries 
Voren Research Institute for 
Psittacultural Science, Inc. 
Florence's Aviaries 
DL&J Birds 
Kenilworth Aviaries 
Tropaquatic's 
Animal House 
Ishmael Slemp 
Vickie Hester 
Tommy Dunsmore 

C75M ijxx: 



137 



HENRY J. HYDE ii 10 B.r8uR~ house CXnct B0..0. 

«T-(>s™«:' i.i.~oo Wasmmoion.OC 20515-1306 

12021 225-4561 



Conqttii of tf)t ?!lniteb States; 
i^ousr of £lcprrsicntatibrs 



INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 

IBastiington. QC 20515-1306 



September 27, 1995 



Honorable Jim Saxton 

Chairman 

Resources Subconunttee On Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 

Hl-805 O'Neill Building 

Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Chairman Seucton: 

I am submitting a letter from my constituent, Mr. Frank Curie, 
President of Zoological Birds Import, to be made part of the hearing 
on the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992. 

Mr. Curie outlines some of the abuse and harassment he has had to 
endured in legally importing birds for his business. It was never 
the intention of the Wild Bird Conservation Act to punish law 
abiding citizens, but Mr. Curie's experience proves that something 
went wrong 6md we need to fix it. 

It is my sincere hope you will find his contribution to this hearing 
valuable, smd I appreciate your considering Mr. Curie's statement 
for the record. 





138 



oiv. OK ainn-R MAvtN.iNC. 

ZOOLOGICAL BIRDS IMPORT 

U.S.D.A. APPROVED QUAKANTIN£ STATION 

1 10'j& WAVCLAND AVE 
FRANKLIN PAHK , ILL 1 NDI S B0131 
U.S.A. 
TEL .700-941-862'! 
FAX :700-9'11-7392 
September 27. 1 995 xaii tng addhess : 

771 ROMAN ROAD 

Honorable Congressman Henry llydc ELMHURST.il boicIB 

5(3 E. Oak Sircci 
Addison. IL 60101 

RE: UJ>. Fish and Wildlife 
Letter of Confiplaini 

Con£:ie<wsman Hyde: 

I and CEO of Bird's Haven Incorporated, located in Ebrthurst, Illinois, with stations also 

located in Franklin Park. Illinoix. The company is approved by U.S.D.A. standards, also licensed 

hy the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sirvicc. 



Complaint : In Janu.nry, 1992. Mr. John Dcikcr, U.S.H. & W agent, Chicago, Illinois said 
directly lo this writer "ihat if il was up to mc (him) all hinis would stay m ihp wild ." 
Also, on another ottasion, Mr. John Decker, agent of the U.S.F &. W said " He would do 
fvrryihint; he can lo put me oul-of-busincs!;." 

'ITiesc remarks made by an afcnl of t he govcm meni. without s pecific c:ause. 1 have 
tnken as a direct threat ayaiuj;! my busiiirxs and livelihood.. 

On Janu.nry IK, 1992, he caused search warrants to be served upon our two business 
locations and a residence. None of those wunanis were signed by a judge. Attempts by 
our atiurney to obtain copies of the affidavits behind those .search wananf;, from the court 
files, were fniitlcss. leading us to believe none ever existed. 

In January, 1992, agent John Decker, U.S.F. & W impounded 3 shipments of birds from 3 
diflercni lounpic;. questioning the authenticity of docun^ciiiation without consulting the 
U S F. Sc W. supervisory i^rsonncl. 'l"hesc (lociiments were issued by the wildlife 



139 



ministries of tho<i> fnrri pn rnimtries a» hrinp aiithanric. and without probably cause, 
based on opinion only. 

Congressman Hyde, on my own initiative I contacted the ministries of three 
foreign countries for rc-verification of documents issued by them to be forwarded, via 
FAX, to agent Decker of the Chicago Office, which was done, and after five weeks of 
impoundment of the shipment, without-cause, they were ceriified and released. 

This action, of unaccountability. of agent Decker, caused my company great stress 
and market-loss without cause . 

In February, 1992, without cause, the Immigration and Naturalization Service paid us a 
visit to check our employees status. They brought with them I.D.s collected by agcni 
John Decker and/or U.S.F. & W. agents fror.i our employees during a search conducted 
on January 18. 1992. There was nothing in the search warrants to authorize seizing of 
employee's documentation of status. I further state that most of our employees have been 
with the company over 10 years. 

In May. 1992, without cause, six shipments of birds from 5 different countries were 
imponed by our company. Shortly after receiving these shipments, agent John Decker - 
on behalf of the U.S.F. & W. sent a letter stating that the U.S.F. & W. is refusing 
clearance for all six shipments. The reason stated at that time was: "Documentation does 
not appear to be authentic." Tliis occurrence took three months, from the arrival date of 
the birds, to clear, before the birds were released. 

In May. 1992. agent John Decker came into our quarantine facility accompanied by 2 
individuals whom he identified as U.S. F. & W personnel from Washington D.C. 



140 



The 2 individuals were finally identified as impostors, environmentalists with an 
Environmental Investigation Agency. This agency is headquanered in London. 
England and is well known as "long time advocates for the total ban on importation of 
exotic birds." 

7. During 1992, several shipments of birds went through full double U.S.F. & W. 
ijispections, again without specific cause, identification and under mi.srcprcscntaiJon by the 
inspecting agency. 

8. During 1992, several shipments of birds went through a full double U.S.F. & W inspection 
without cause, in New York and Chicago. In no instance were any violations found or 
documentation questionable. All of these inspections were without legitimate reason and 
die company charged for all of the above unnecessary procedures. 

9. In May, 1992, agent John Decker personally service a subpoena to appear before a 
Grand Jury covering Ba.<>ler Airlmes in Wisconsin, which was initiated by agent John 
Decker of the U.S.F. & W. Again, there was no grounds for indictment. The subpoena 
also covered all business records. Therefore, the airline severed our business relationship 
and will no longer carry our birds. 

10. From January 1992, tluough 1994 each tune I returned from a business trip I was 
subjected to a thoroughly conducted search at the auport. ITicre were times when U.S.F. 
& W agents searched my luggage and briefcase AFTRW customs had completed their 
.search. The papers in my briefcase, amount of monies carried, etc., had all been gone 
through by agents of tlic U.S.F. & W. Their searches have been documented by the U.S. 
Customs service. 

11. \n \ 994, while in Africa, 1 sent a package of wood carvings valued at $475.00, which was 



141 



documented by the U.S. Customs service. The package was sent to Chicago but was held 
by the U.S.F. & W for 14 days. Two valuable African masks were so roughly handled 
thai they were destroyed. 

1 2. We Import live food (mealworms) for our birds from Belgium. Every shipment b held by 
U.S.F. & W. for inspection at the airport, even though this type of shipment falls under the 
aegis of the U.S.D.A. and NOT the U.S.F. & W. Mealworms require refrigeration but 
must be left out for U.S.F. & W. inspection. By the time the U.S.F. & W. released these 
shipments they are ruined from overheating. Each shipment is valued at approximately 
$1,500.00. 

1 3. In July. 1993, U.S.F. & W succes.sfully stopped American Airlines from carrying our bird 
shipments to the United States. Previously we had used American for IS years without 
any problcm.s. 

During the current year, 199.S, the U.S.F. & W. is applying pressure to our present 

currier, Sabena Airlines for the same reason. 
14 In December, 1992, without cause or justification, wc received citations for 2 documents 

left behind by airlines in a transit city, but forwarded immediately on the very next flight to 

the United States. This type of occurrence is beyond otir control, yet the company was 

fined $1,000.00 per incident. 
1 5. In January. 1 994. citations alleging violations of lATA .shipping rules were served for a 

total of $5,000.00. 

It became apparent at that time that the U.S.F Sc. W published in the Federal 

Register only, tlieir regulations for shipping live aninials, WrTHOUT notifying our 

company of any changes. The U.S.F. & W. then decided to enforce these regulations even 



142 



though we had not been notified of changes. 

1 6. In April, 1 994, agent John Decker initiated new citations against the company for alleged 
violations for the humane transport of live birds. These citations were listed and went 
back to 1292- The total cost for these unfair allegations was $18.51)0.00. 

17. In April, 1 994, agent John Decker again initiated new citations for alleged violation for the 
humane transport of live birds, costing $5,350.00. Agent Decker alleged tJic company 
"ijTiported 1000 finches without proper documentation." Again, the wildlife ministry of 
the exporting country sent a FAX to agent Decker slating " :^non pairs, which agent 
Decker inst iiiited as rc.ariine "^000 hrad." 

18. In March, 1 994, citations for shipping violations on shipments arriving on October 1 5, 
1993, toul was $2,000.00. 

19. On August 10, 199S, the same type of citation was issued for shipping violadons on 3 
separate shipments imported on 4/30/94, 5/12/94, 3/7/95, total cost $13,000.00. 

20. On August 1 1 , 1995, citations were again issued on a shipment from Tanzania on October 
3, 1994, totaling $5,600.00. 

This particular citation was totally without justification or cau.<;e, ui fact being a full 
fabrication by the U.S.F. & W. NOTE: the citation was issued for a .shipment supposedly 
frotn Tanzania. East Africa, of a small pano; which only lives in South America. 

TOTAL COflT TO DATE: t^l.lWM 
IN SUMMARY: Plea.se note that every shipment to date has been questioned, held up. 
or had citations issued by the U.S.F. & W. for alleged violations. These continue despite every 
effort being made by the company to comply with U.S.F. & W. regulations (even when we are not 
notified what these regulations consi.M of and are not notified of changes). Hearings requested by 



143 



the company and held by the U.S.F. & W. have ALL resulted in higher charges being issued 
against it 

The company has been importing exotic birds into the United Stales for ihc past 1 3 years 
and has complied with all regulations (when we are notified what they are and when changes have 
been made). 1 myself travel continuously to personally oversee the exporting country's shipping 
standards and procedures to ensure they compa^ with United States sundards. I also make 
every effort to personally accompany these shipments whenever possible to doubly ensure that all 
standards for the humane treatment of imported animals are carried out. 

I feel that the company is being harassed by the U.S.F. d^ W. and is being specifically 
targeted for unwarranted and unsubstantiated fines and attention. These actions by the U.S.F. St 
W. have placed the company in an untenable position of trying to do business under impossible 
conditions. The U.S.F. A W. is the only federal agency that has caused acute financial and 
emotional stress to the company, as well as eliminating 23 other bird importations throughout the 
United Sutes. 

Your attention and investigation into this imponant matter would be greatly appreciated. 
Your .support of the American businessman is well-known and we turn to you for help in this 
matter. 




144 



14 NOVEMBER 1994 




/^ o 



OP 9 

TRIBUNE 



MONDAYa 



Published by iht Inumalional Vtldlift Uiinagemeni Consoniiun, iu membtrs, and tupponing iniiiiuit 




S forms shocking 
liaison with ElA 

For several delcgaiions ihtl witnessed 
ii, ihc press conrereiKC held joinily by 
thejiead of (he US CITES dclegulon and 
iwo NCO's on Friday came as a great and 
understundable shock. 

The ostensible purpose of (he conTeteiKe 
was to inform the media on efforts lo im- 
prove enforcement of CITES. But enforce- 
ment is a tiiaiter for which the CITES Sec- 
retarial, MH NGO's, is responsible, and it 
'UlJ have been much more 
appropriate, therefore, for the US to hold 
ihis pre:>!i uciiviiy in conjunction with the 

ecrei,iriui The perception thai the Iwo 
.<CO's which look pan are playing a sub- 
^laniivc role in ullairs which should be con- 
duclcO biricily between CITES and Parties 
lo the Cunventiun seu as disturbing prece- 
dent and :>huws o lack of respect for the 
sovereign rights of the Member-States 

One ul these two NGO's. the Environ- 
mental InvcsiigationAgency (EIA). hOihiid 
u severe negative impact on the alluirs of 
CITES Perhaps the Head of the US del- 
egation was noi aware of the rruny map- 
piopriaic actions taken by the ELA such as 
the following: 

• In 1989, ihe ElAdelibcraicly hid criti- 
cal documents from a Party to the Crwven- 
iion which, if communicated immediately 
could lijvo led lo impurijnt enforcement 
actions Cuuld this have been done in the 

cant., p. 3 



J Umi iiOuis soDoltDiKiu. 



Surprenante Alliance Relaci6n escandalosa 
EU / ElA entre los EEUU 



Pluiieun d^Kgsliont qui ooi tuiut, 
vendredi. k la conlirencc de presie 
donnde conjointemeni par le Chef de U 
Dtldgaiion des EU et deux ONGs oM tU 
choqudes. 

Le but Evident de celie conference de 
ptesse itail d' informer les m^ias sur let 
efforts en cours afin d'amdiiorer la mise en 
application de la CITES. Ccue ntisc en ap- 
plication est la responsabilit< de la CITES 
et non celle des ONCs. II aurait Hi, par 
consequent, plus appropri< que les EU 
lienneni cctie activity de presse 
conjointemeni avcc Ic Secretariat. Lc r&le 
subsianiiel joui par les deui ONGs dans 
une affaire relevant sirictenKnt de la CITES 
et des Parties ft la Convention, cttt un 
precedent inquietani ei demontre un 
irrespecl total pour les droits souverains des 
Eiais-Membrcs. 

L'une de ces dcui ONOs, 
"I'Environmental Intelligence Agency" 
(ElA), a eu un impact L-et negatif tur let 
affaires de la CITES. Le Chef de 
Delegation des EU n'euit peui-itre pai au 
courant des nombreusei aciivitei 
lnapprophe«i prtliqueet par I'EIA, Idles 
que: 

• Eo 1989. lEIA a deiiberemcnl 
dissimuie des documents iris impoctanu i 
une Panic i la Convention. Si les docu- 
ments avaient eie communiques 
immediatemcnt. pcui-eirc auraieni-ils 
n»ir.. p. 3 



Grahame Webb on Swifllels 
Doug Uutterworth and Eugene Lapoinle on the Minke 



y la EIA 

Para varias delegteiones que fueron 
ICHlgos, la conferencUi de preou que 
fue dirigida el viemes conjunuunenie por 
el Jefe de la delegacibn de CITES de los 
EEUU y de dos ONGs Ileg6 como un gran 
y comprensible susio. 

La imenci6n aparenle de la conferencia 
en de informar a lot medios tobre lu^ 
afucraos de rrtejorar la aplicacl6n de U 
CITES. Pero la aplicacidn et un atunio bajo 
la rcsponiabilidad del Secreuriado de la 
CITES y no de las ONQs y por consiguienic 
hubicra sido niucho m^ apropiado ti luv 
EEUU hubicran dirigido esia actividad dc 
prensa juniamente con el Secretanado. La 
percepci6n que los dos ONGs presentcs 
e$Un dcsempei^ando un papel sustancial en 
atunios que deberfan ser iraiadot 
eulusivamcnt por la CITES y las panes 
de la Convenci6n di6 un precedentc 
inquidanie y muestra una falta de respeiu 
por los derechos toberanos de los 
Miembros Estados. 

Una de estas dot ONOs, la 'Enviionmcn- 
lal Investigation Agency* (ElA), ha lenido 
un gian impacto negativo sobre lot asunios 
de la CITES. IU vez el Jefe de la delegacite 
de lot EEUU iw cstaba consciente de las 
iDuchas medidas Inapropiadas lomadas por 
la EIA, como las .<iiguientes: 

• En 1989, la EIA cscondi6 a propositu 
documentos importanies a una Pane de la 
Convencidn que. $i hubieran sido 
irantmitidos innicdiaiamenie, hubicran 
podido haber conducido a accionc^ 
importanies dc uplicaci6n Es potibic quc 

coni.. p. } 



J)/Sr/e/(Sc^y^^ /f/ 






145 



a, auubuudfiomp. 2 

Similarly, ibe prapoul Impliet liiai ev- 
y biiof geoede variaiioB eoeoumend l« 
unponuu for Ibe lurvl val of a (pGCies.Thit 
is simpUttic and ioconecL \^iiatioa tuch 
u thai dciecied with geneiic finyerprim- 
ing lechniques reveals an eoonnous level 
of subtle DN A variaiioa between individu- 
als wiiliia a species, which is coolisually 
being gained and lotL The great i 



of this variation Is inckvaai lo the wrvtval 
oC the species. 

In ooodusitML Ibe f*^*^ ff irmpftncw of 
die US pfXjposal is bued on a series of Sim- 
plitlic assumpiioos that I consider to be 
fundamentally flawed. If implemented, 
ihey likely would icsull in species being 
allocated lo (he appendices on (be basis of 
charKtenstics that have nothing at all to 
do with risk of extinction. 



(For funher infoaaaiioo oo (be Unnia- 
iioas of using genetic hftcroiy|oaiiks for 
asKssiog specks eodancefraeiu. I refer you 
10 the excellent book by Richardson. 
Bavesiock and Adams (1986) "AllozynK 
Electrophoreiij", Academic Ptes». Pp. 357- 
354.1 




VS I ElA camOiMtdfTom p. I 



interest of publicity and fund-raising for 
EIA7 

• For several months in 1989. the EIA 
spread serious, though unfounded accu- 
saiiont. including a cbaige of corruption 
of ihe CITES Secretariat and iu staff 
members: 

• The group went on lo spread these accu- 
sations lo the media around the worid and 
publish them in a book; 

• Dunng iJiis same period, Ihe EIA stole 
communications documents between itie 
Secretariat and a Party to Ihe Convention 
aiieoding ■ CITES meeting in Bouwana; 

• Prior to the last IWC meeting ELA look 
pan in a major fundraising effon on 
whales (with full page ads in a m^jor US 
newspaper and (he Intematiooal HenM 
Tribune), nudting false accusations of il- 
legal behavior by Norway and inappro- 
priately criticizing Vice President Gore 
and the US Adminisiraiion. 

As a reminder of this press cooference. 
panicipanu of COP 9 are left wiih a mon- 
suous paper "barometer" showing the co«- 
iribulions received for fundraising enforce- 
ment efforts. At a Boy Scout convention 
or ans and crafu fait such a display might 
be appropnaic, but here li rcpresenu a di- 
rect affront to the decency and respect 
which such inteigovemmenial meetings 
should be accorded. 

Of course there ate enfotcemenl prob- 
lems wiihin CTTES and Ihey must be ad- 
dressed. Bui this must be in accordance 
within Ihe provisions of Che text of the Con- 
'cntion. It must also be done Ihe right way 
'nd by the right people. 



BU/BIA eoKtlnuaciim dtp.l 

pennis d'aoc^Kter cetle imponante mise en 

application? 

• pendant plusieun mois en 1989, TELA a 
ripaadu des accunuuns irte s^tieuse* et 
infondtei conire le Secretariat de la 
CITES ei son personnel, y compris celles 
deconuption: 

•legroupe a continue kdiffuserces accu- 
sations aux mddias de loutes les parties 
du moode et les a pubises dans un livce; 

• duiant la m£mep^ode,rEIA a subtilise 
det documents du Secreiariat de I* 
CITES destines k une Panic k la Con- 
vention panicipam k une reunion de la 
CITES au Botswana; 

' L'ElA > participe. avant la demi6re 
rituiion de I'lWC. k une gigantesque 
campagne de fonds sur les baleioes (uoe 
page entitre dans quelques joumaux 
ui^onanis des EU et dans I'lntemaiional 
Hoald l^ibune) en f aisant de fausses ac- 
cusations tur in soit-disani coinponcmeni 
Illegal de la Norvige el eo criiiquant 
ouvencmenl le Vice-Presideni Gore et 
radmi[\isiration des EU; 

En conunemoration de cette conference 
de presse. les panicipants au C0P9 oni tefu 
un monuueut "barvninc en papiei" qui 
laisse enuevoir les conuibuiions perfues 
pour la campagne de fonds relative t cede 
mise en application Lon d^lne convei>- 
tion de jeuncs Scouu sur une exposition 
d'art et d'anisanat, une lelle demoostraiioo 
auraii pu tire appreciee, mals, dans le 
contexie present, cette action represeme un 
affront direa k la decence et au reqieo des 
rencontres imer-gouvemememales. 

BiensOr ilya.auseindelaCnES,des 

probiemes de mise en application qui 

I doivent Cire abordes. Mais ceci doit t»n 

I fait seloo les dispositions du lexte de la 

Convention, de la bonne maniire et par le* 

bonnes personnes. 



CITES COP 9 — FT. LAUDEROALE 



CONSERVATI6N TRIBUNE 



EEUU/EIA continuQUon d*p.i 

esia medida fue ton^da en fnieres de b 
publicidad y la tecoleccidn de foodos pan 
laBIA? :| t 

• Ouranie varios ine«e$ eo 1989. la ElA 
difundfa acusiclonies grtves pero 
infundadas. induyendo un caigo de 
comipcidn contra el ^ecretatiado de la 
CITES y sus empleados; 

• El grupo procedid a difundir esias 
■cusaciones a los medios por el mundo y 
a pubticarias en un libto: 

• Durante esie misiiio p^tibdo. la EIA robo 
documenios de comunicacido enue el 
Secieiariado y uiu Partp de la C9nvertci6n 
asistieodo a la CWSS que se reunfa en 
Bouwana; 

• Antes de la liliima reu^dn de la IWC, la 
EIA tomd parte en yn esfuerzo par^ 
recolecci6n de fondo^ para laf ballena^ 
(con anuncios a toda plana en varios 
pcriddicos principales de los EEUU y en 
el International HeraldTribune) haciendo 
falsiu acusaciones de conducio ilegal por 
Nocuega y criticando inapropiadamenie el 
Vice Presideme Core y laAdmimsiracibn 
de los EEUU. 

Como un recuerdo de esia conferetKia 
de prensa. los panicpantes de la COP9 
recibieron un "bar^mctro" enotme de papcl 
mostraitdo las comibudones recibidas para 
financiar esfuerxos de aplicacidn. En una 
coovencido de boy scouu o ui|a feiia dc 
arte, una lal demonstracldn podrfa ter 
apropiada, pero aquf repretenia i^ afrenu 
ditecia a la decencia y al respeto debidos s 
tale* teuniones inteijubenujei.1 

Naiuralnkeote exisien problemas de 
aplicaci6n en la CITES y de^erfan ser 
dlscut id ot. Sin embiigo esio tq liene que 
hacer segiin las disposicionet dpi iexu> dc 
la Convencidn y de un| maneraconecia y 
por la gente apropiada. 

Page 3 



146 




1101 Fountenlh Sircet, NW 
Suiic l-KIO 

Washington. DC 20005 
Telephone 202-682-9400 
Fax 202-682-1331 



Testimony of Defenders of Wildlife 

on Reauthorization of the 
Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 



Before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans 
of the House Resources Committee 



September 28, 1995 



Introduction 

On behalf of our 1 1 8,000 members and supporters, Defenders of 
Wildlife urges the members of this subcommittee to support reauthorization 
of the Wild Bird Conservation Act without any weakening amendments. 
Defenders played an active role in the development of this important 
conservation law, participating in a dialogue with the pet industry and other 
Interested groups. We helped draft more stringent legislation — supported 
by a broad coalition — that would have banned most wild bird imports 
immediately. Instead, the WBCA was adopted as a carefully-crafted 
compromise. It phased out the most problematic species in trade while 
allowing some imports to continue, subject to reasonable restrictions. We 
continue to support this moderate approach and urge you to not reopen 
the debate via any substantive amendments. 

For the past three years, the Wild Bird Conservation Act has 
protected hundreds of wild bird species from excessive commercial 
Importation to the United States. At the same time, the law has promoted 
captive breeding of birds by aviculturists in the U.S., and has benefitted 
American consumers by ensuring quality, healthy pet birds. By all 
accounts, the law has tjeen an unqualified success. 



147 



The Purpose of the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

Large-scale commercial trade in exotic birds has had a devastating effect upon 
wild bird populations worldwide. Excessive trade and habitat destruction together 
threaten more than 1 ,000 bird species with extinction. In the past two decades alone, 
international trade has been recorded for more than 2,600 of the approximately 9,600 
known bird species, with trade levels estimated at two to five million birds annually 
[1). Large birds such as parrots and macaws, a major component of the international 
trade, are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting because of their slow reproductive 
rates [2]. 

Problems of overharvesting are compounded by high mortality and collection 
methods that destroy important habitat. Up to 80% of birds die before reaching their 
final destination, as hundreds of birds are frequently crammed into small crates 
without sufficient food, water, or ventilation [3]. To collect these birds, trees are often 
cut down or nest cavities opened with machetes, resulting in permanent habitat 
destruction [4]. 

Prior to the Wild Bird Conservation Act, the United States was the world's 
largest importer of wild birds, importing more than 7.4 million birds between 1 980 
and 1 991 . This lucrative market ovenwhelmed many international attempts to control 
the bird trade, including export bans by range nations. 

Unlike most policy issues which involve complex trade-offs and technical 
details, the problems of the wild bird trade fortunately can be largely solved by 
tapping a readily-available source of birds — those bred in captivity in the United 
States. By restricting imports of wild-caught birds from foreign countries, the Act 
promotes both good conservation and U.S.-based industry as part of the solution. 



Legislative History of the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

The current law emerged from two separate bills introduced in 1 991 which 
addressed the trade problem in different ways. The Exotic Bird Conservation Act 
(H.R. 2541, S. 1218) would have gradually reduced some imports over a five-year 
period but still allowed a significant amount of trade to continue. This bill was 
supported by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (representing the major 
commercial bird importers), the American Federation of Aviculture, the Worid Wildlife 
Fund, and others. In contrast, the Wild Bird Protection Act (H.R. 2540, S. 1219), 
supported by Defenders and more than 200 conservation, emimal protection, and 
scientific organizations, would have immediately banned all importation of wild birds 
and required marking of exotic birds already present in the United States. After 
months of hard-fought negotiation, a compromise was developed that entailed 
significant concessions from both sides. The compromise basically allowed 



148 



continued imports of some species while restricting imports on other species 
regulated under international treaty and subject to more intense trade pressures. The 
resulting legislation, known as the Wild Bird Conservation Act (H.R. 5013), was 
unanimously approved by Congress, and was signed into law by President George 
Bush on October 23, 1992. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act protects wild birds by restricting the 
importation of bird species listed in the three Appendices to CITES. The Act placed 
an immediate ban on ten of the most imperiled species and established one-year 
import quotas for the remainder. Once these quotas expired in October 1993, the Act 
effectively banned all importation of CITES-llsted bird species, with exceptions for 
scientific research, zoological breeding or display, approved cooperative breeding 
programs, and a "clean list" of species for which trade is known to consist entirely of 
captive-bred individuals. Ten bird families, such as guineafowl, turkeys, pheasants, 
and ducks, are also exempt from the Act's provisions, as are all birds native to the 
United States. As an additional measure of protection, the Act authorizes the Fish 
and Wildlife Service to prohibit the importation of species not listed under CITES; to 
date, however, the Service has chosen not to do so. 



Success of the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

Since passage of the WBCA in 1 992, the volume of birds imported to the 
United States has declined significantly. Throughout the 1 980s, the United States 
imported an average of 700,000 birds annually. According a series of reports based 
on these import figures, captive-bred birds accounted for approximately nine to 1 3 
percent of the total, with the remainder taken from the wild [5]. Figures for 1994 are 
still incomplete, but analysis of the available data indicates a total of 80,000 birds 
imported, approximately 45 percent of which were captive bred. This reduction in 
trade is primarily due to the decrease in the importation of wild-caught birds, which 
made up the majority of the trade prior to 1992. By restricting imports, the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act has successfully reduced trade pressures on wild bird populations. 
For example, biologists have noted the importance of the WBCA to conservation of 
the red-fronted macaw, as 80 percent of the international trade in this species was 
destined for the United States [6]. 

The Act has been a success for bird retailers and breeders in the United States 
as well. Despite predictions to the contrary, the sale of pet birds in the United States 
has flourished since the passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. An annual retail 
survey published by Pet Product News indicates that sales of pet birds and bird 
products have nearly doubled in the past four years, from $277 million in 1 991 to 
$543 million in 1 994. Even prior to the WBCA, many pet stores, from major chains 
such as Petsland, PETsMART, and Docktor Pet Centers to independent stores such 
as the American Bird Company in Northern Virginia, sold only captive-bred birds. Pet 



149 



bird dealers readily acknowledge that captive-bred birds are more tame and healthy 
than wild-caught birds and therefore make better pets. Wild-caught birds, however, . 
generally cost less because captive breeding is an expensive and labor-intensive 
process. By preventing the Importation of wild-caught birds, the WBCA uses market 
forces to shift consumer demand to professional breeders. New York's 1984 law 
banning the sale of wild birds produced similar results: with the cheaper wild birds 
removed from the market, the state's bird breeders thrived [7], 

While a few spokesmen for the bird-breeding industry have expressed 
continued opposition to the WBCA, our experience shows that their rhetoric is not 
matched by individual bird breeders and pet store owners. There is a wide variety 
and diversity of opinion within the aviculture community about the merits of the Act. 
Although many of the aviculturists we contacted admitted confusion and 
misunderstandings about the Act's provisions, almost all expressed strong support 
for the Act. Specifically, numerous individuals indicated that there was little reason to 
continue to import birds for the commercial pet market, as the number of birds 
already in the United States is sufficient to meet demand. In fact, for a number of 
endangered parrot species, more birds exist in captivity in the United States than 
remain in the wild. 



Risks of Weakening the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

Some opponents of the Act have called for significant changes, including a 
categorical exemption for all captive-bred birds and an elimination of the Act's 
marking provisions. While these changes are generally couched in terms of reducing 
the regulatory burden upon law-abiding aviculturists, we believe that any reduction in 
these essential provisions would be tantamount to a repeal of the Act. A blanket 
exemption for captive-bred birds would essentially render the Act meaningless 
because of the difficulties of distinguishing individual birds taken from the wild or 
bred in captivity. 

Currently, the Act places reasonable limits on captive-bred birds, allowing 
importation for approved cooperative breeding programs in addition to certain 
species (identified on the agency's "clean list" for which international trade has been 
determined to be entirely captive bred). In addition, the Act has no significant 
restrictions on the imports of birds not listed under CITES, whether captive-bred or 
not. 

Similarly, it is essential that the agency administering the Act retain the current, 
very limited authority to require marking of certain types of birds. This authority has 
never been invoked and is not likely to be activated anytime soon [8] . Accordingly, 
the mere possibility of FWS invoking this tool — if needed to address the most 
serious smuggling problems — should not be a serious point of contention during 



150 



this reauthorization process. While no single marking system has yet been perfected, 
elimination of this important enforcement tool sends the wrong message to 
smugglers: that Congress and the Fish and Wildlife Service are not serious about 
cracking down on the illegal bird trade. 

International trade in captive-bred birds must be regulated to prevent the 
laundering of wild-caught birds. Smugglers have been known to raise chicks from 
eggs taken from the wild, or force closed leg bands over the feet of young wild- 
caught birds so that they would appear to have been bred in captivity. Further 
exemptions for captive-bred birds would only fuel this sort of illegal activity, to the 
detriment of birds in the wild, as well as to most law-abiding aviculturists and pet 
dealers in the United States, who would once again be forced to compete with a 
flood of inexpensive wild-caught birds. 

Foreign breeding facilities may also export birds to the United States once 
these regulations have been finalized by the Rsh and Wildlife Service. While some 
critics have accused the Service of delaying these regulations, one must remember 
that the Service has been charged by Congress with the difficult task of ensuring that 
these facilities will not merely funnel vinld-caught birds into the United States. Until 
effective regulations are in place, the conservation intent of the Act is far better served 
by a ban on such exports rather than hastily-prepared, incomplete, or unenforceable 
regulations. In the decades prior to passage of the WBCA, aviculturists and bird 
dealers had ample opportunity to develop their own systems to prevent laundering of 
wild-caught birds by foreign facilities. Their failure to do indicates the difficulty of this 
task, and underscores the need for the Act. 

Another reason for maintaining the Act in its current form is the importance of 
supporting the many countries that are acting to protect their native wildlife by 
restricting or banning exports. Nations such as Australia, Guyana, the Philippines, 
and Zimbabwe need the United States to slow demand in order to be able to enforce 
their own bird export bans. Similarly, any significant reopening of trade would 
undermine the enforcement of state laws in New York and New Jersey where pet 
stores and consumers have learned to profit from bird import bans. A national 
approach is needed to this national problem, and the Wild Bird Conservation Act 
strikes the right balance between conservation and legitimate business and consumer 
interests [9]. 



Conclusion: Reauthorize the Wild Bird Conservation Act 

As the world's largest importer of wild-caught birds, the United States was for 
years the driving force behind much of the intemational trade that was decimating 
populations of wild birds. Belatedly, the United States has t>een recognized as a 
world leader in wild bird conservation following the passage of the Wild Bird 



151 



Conservation Act. This law ensures that the importation of exotic birds into the 
United States no longer jeopardizes wild populations or causes the needless deaths 
of hundreds of thousands of birds. A strong Wild Bird Conservation Act also helps 
other nations enforce their own bird conservation laws and benefits American 
aviculturists and pet bird buyers. For these successes to continue, the Act must be 
reauthorized in its current form. We strongly urge this subcommittee to reauthorize 
the Wild Bird Conservation Act without any weakening amendments. 



152 



Notes 

1 . T. P. Inskipp, 1 990. Overview of the Number and Value of Birds In Trade. 

Presented at the Symposium on Trade in Wild Birds, Twentieth World 
Conference of the International Council for Bird Preservation, Hamilton, New 
Zealand. 

2. L A. Alamia and J. P. O'Niell. The Red-Fronted Macaw: A Conservation Priority 

(Part 2). A.F.A. Watchbird . Julv/Auoust 1995. 

3. S. Lieberman. Landmark U.S. Legislation Will Conserve Exotic Wild Birds. 

Endangered Species Technical Bulletin . December 1992. 

4. E. H. Bucher, 1992. Sustainable Harvesting of Parrots for Consen/atlon. New 

World Parrots In Crisis: Solutions from Conservation Biology . Smithsonian 
Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 

5. G. Nilsson, 1985. Importation of Birds into the United States, 1980-1984. Animal 

Welfare Institute, Washington, D.C; G. Nilsson, 1989. Importation of Birds 
into the United States, 1985. Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, D.C; G. 
Nilsson, 1990. Importation of Birds into the United States, 1986-1988. Animal 
Welfare Institute, Washington, D.C; G. Nilsson, 1992. Importation of Birds 
into the United States, 1989. Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C. 

6. Supra , note 2. 

7. B. Connor. Testimony on the Wild Bird Consen/ation Act of 1992 before the 

House Subcommittees on Fisheries and Wildlife Consen/ation and the 
Environment and Trade. 1 6 June 1 992. 

8. J. Doggett, Chief, FWS Law Enforcement, pers. comm., 12 September 1995. 

9. L. Simon. New York's Crusade for Exotic Birds. Defenders . November/ 

Decemt>er 1990. 



153 



Martin Muschinske 
POB718 
Jamul, CA 91935 



September 18, 1995 



Honerable Don Young 
Chairman of the House 
subcommittee on Fiseries, 
Wildlife and Oceans 
United States House of 
Representatives 
Washington, DC. 

Attn. Mr Harry Burroughs, Staff Director 



Dear Mr. Young: 

I appreciate the opportunity your committee is giving citizens to be heard on the issues 
involving the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) regulations. My wife and I are 
Environmental Specialists and work for the Department of Fish and Game as well as 
aviculturists. As professionals in the field of Conservation Biology we are concerned with the 
tendency for some, who purport to be, "environmentalists" to embrace old paradigms 
because, like old jeans they are comfortable. 

On September 21 , 1 994, The National Academy of Sciences launched a three year, 
multimillion-dollar project to explore environmental and development concerns. Among other 
issues the project, called "Global Commons," will investigate the problems of species 
extinction and tropical deforestation, population grov\/th and land use. The project will 
reexamine these problems and may result is a new paradigm. 

We are all aware that the problems addressed by "Global Commons" are exacerbated by 
population growth and wanton exploitation of natural resources. Environmental degradation 
has been the hallmark of economic development and the destruction of natural habitats was 
just assumed to be the by-product of civilization. 

To the pioneers, dwarfed by the expanse of the natural world, and its seemingly endless 
bounty, nature was infinite and inexhaustible. To astronauts peering from spacecraft at the 
"blue marble" earth engulfed by the expanse of the universe, the world seems small and they 
can see that natural resources are finite and exhaustible. 

From each perspective the pioneer and the astronaut have an appropriate understanding of 
the world. It is a contradiction or an enigma, c,r\\y tjecause each of us sees only a "snapshot 
in time" of the natural wonder called earth. We act based on our perceptions unfortunately 
humans make decisions often based on limited or distorted information, not tiecause we are 
base or evil but because we tend to slip into a comfort zone that makes us feel good. 



154 



The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA), is based on limited and distorted information, as a 
result inaccurate opinions and poorly understood assumptions were used to justify 
outrageous regulations which, in the long run will be contradictory to the aim and goals of wild 
bird conservation. The way in which the regulations are being written and promulgated by 
the Fish and Wildlife Service, we will see the rapid extinction of many Central and South 
American birds because of the onerous provisions of the WBCA and the bureaucratic 
quagmire that they create. 

The WBCA stifles the activities of aviculturists who help protect wild bird populations in two 
ways: 1 . captive breeding of birds for the pet trade takes much of the economic incentive 
out of smuggling birds into the United States and 2. private aviculturists who are active in 
conservation breeding programs, which will provide a valuable resource for future 
reintroduction efforts. 

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) publication. International Wildlife Trade , a CITES Source 
book, recognizes the importance of captive-bred species as ". . . they enter trade legally and 
are usually healthier and tamer than their wild caught counterparts." The book goes on to 
detail that presently the only two parrots not regulated by CITES are commonly bred (by 
private aviculturists) and they cite four more species are being bred in significant numbers 
that will deter smuggling ( in my opinion there are dozens of species of birds being 
domestically bred that deter smuggling). 

In his book, Last Animals at the Zoo , that deals with strategies for stopping mass extinction, 
Mr. Colin Tudge, details the importance of the role of private aviculturists in conservation 
breeding programs, in addition he laments the bureaucratic nightmare that sometimes 
accompanies the efforts of conservation breeding programs, even before the present. WBCA 
Regulations! The WBCA regulations are unreasonably complex and do not contribute to the 
conservation of wild birds. 

In closing I wish to quote from Mr. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of 
Sciences, "Given time, political will and the intelligent use of science, human ingenuity can 
find substitutes for wasteful practices, improve the human condition and the preserve the 
earth's natural resources." The subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans has an 
opportunity to display the political will, recognize the need for intellegent science, and use the 
ingenuity of private aviculturists to help presen/e wild bird populations by removing the 
wasteful bureacracy of the WBCA regulations. Recognize the valuable contribution private 
aviculturists have made to the preservation of wild birds and revise the regulations to 
incorporate the recommendations provided by the position of the American Federation of 
Aviculture. 



Sincerely 
Martin Muschinske 



155 



WILD BIRD CONSERVATION ACT 
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS 

September 28, 1995 

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 
U.S. House of Representatives 

Su pplemental Testimony of Frank M. Bond, General Counsel 
North American Falconers Association 



Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I appreciated the opportunity to appear 
before you on September 28, 1995 to present testimony. You told those who testified that the 
record for testimony would be held open for 30 days to receive additional testimony. For that 
purpose, I add this Supplemental Testimony to my testimony and respectfully request that it be 
incorporated by reference for all purposes. 
Amendments 

1. I request that you adopt the following amendment which would substantially 
alleviate some small parts of the problems of those citizens who deal with raptors by exempting 
the family of Falconiformes. 

To Section 104(2)(B)(ii), compiled at 16 USC 4903(2)(B)(ii), amend the WBCA as 
follows: 

(ii) birds in the following families: Falconiformes . Phasianidac, . . . 

2. Further, the Committee may wish to consider correcting a bill drafting error it 
made in the original enactment of the WBCA. Section 111, Prohibited Acts, compiled at 16 
USC 4910, in subsection (a), there appear two subparagraphs: subparagraph (1), In general; 
and, subparagraph (2), Limitation. There does not appear to be a subparagraph (3). Yet at 



156 

Section 113(a)(1)(B), compiled at 16 USC 4912 (a)(1)(B), and Section 113(a)(2)(B), compiled 
at 16 USC 4912(a)(2)(B), there appears references to violations of prohibitions of Section 
4910(a)(3). No such prohibition was enacted. 

To correct the drafting error, the Conmiittee should amend the act to strike Sections 
4912(a)(1)(B) and 4912(a)(2)(B). 

WBCA and Raptor Conservation 

I made reference at the public hearing that the WBCA, rather than promote conservation, 
may actually inhibit raptor conservation. I include for your consideration two letters written by 
Dr. William Bumham on April 25, 1995 and May 12, 1994 regarding the raptor conservation 
work imdertaken by The Peregrine Fund, which is adversely affected by the WBCA and its 
regulations. The letters were written in response to a call for comments on proposed WBCA 
regulations. I enclose those letters and request that they be made a part of my supplemental 
testimony. 

Conclusion 

We appreciate the opportunity to present testimony and to have appeared at the hearing. 
Based on the validity of our comments, we sincerely hope that you will agree that it was never 
intended that the WBCA inhibit legitimate uses and conservation of raptors, and therefore, that 
you will exempt the family Falconiformes from the WBCA. 



157 



m The Peregri ne Fund 



Focium? on hrds pn ^ tAi\ - 

'§lS' WORLD CENTER FOR BIRDS OF PREY cmsmatum „i miurc . fczo-iws 






,..'^/ 



April 25, 1995 

Mollie Beattie 

Director 

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Room 3256 

1849 C Street NW 

Washington, D.C. 20240 

Dear Director Beattie: 

With this letter The Peregrine Fund wishes to provide the U. S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service with substantive comment and specific suggestions regarding the Wild Bird Conservation 
Act (WBCA). 

The Peregrine Fund is a non-profit conservation organization working nationally and 
internationally to conserve nature by focusing on birds of prey. We are best known for our 
species restoration projects involving the captive propagation and release of raptors to restore 
extirpated populations and bolster remnant populations. Nationally, we are involved with the 
restoration of the Peregrine Falcon, Aplomado Falcon, California Condor, the 'Alala, and other 
Hawaiian forest birds. Internationally, we are involved in species propagation and restoration 
efforts with the Mauritius Kestrel, Philippine Eagle, Harpy Eagle, and Orange-breasted Falcon. 
Several of these efforts are approaching a successful conclusion while others are just beginning. 

Under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 
Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), we continue to 
import and export live raptors for the purposes of restoring and enhancing wild populations. 
Working under the restrictions imposed by these acts and treaties has been problematic at best. 
The average time required to obtain permits is eight months. These delays are apparently 
unavoidable and have contributed to the death of wildlife and the relocation of conservation 
projects outside of the United States. 



5666 West Flying Hawk Lane • Boise. Idaho 83709 • United Slates ot Amenc 



158 



Mollie Beattie 
Page Two 
April 25, 1995 



Since the implementation of the WBCA, The Peregrine Fund has been attempting to 
import a non-releasable Harpy Eagle as part of an on-going species restoration program and has 
found that this new addition to the permit process has made an already unworkably ponderous 
and redundant system even worse. 

I provide our experience with this import request as an example of what this new 
legislation has required of both Service and The Peregrine Fund staff. In January of 1994 we 
encountered a non-releasable aq)tive Harpy Eagle in Venezuela during the course of our on- 
going field research on this species in that country. Both the government of Venezuela and The 
Peregrine Fund decided that the best use of this individual would be as part of the captive 
breeding program at our facility in Idaho. The Peregrine Fund submitted an ^plication for a 
CITES import permit to the Office of Management Authority on Fd)ruary 8, 1994. We were 
notified that under the newly adopted WBCA, we would be required to form a 'Cooperative 
Breeding Consortium" prior to being able to submit a request for a CITES import permit. 
Following the instructions of the Office of Management Authority, The Peregrine Fund 
submitted applications for a Cooperative Breeding Program under the WBCA. This request was 
approved (PRT-CB003) on September 6, 1994, two days short of seven months. At this point 
we were able to re-activate our request for a CITES import permit which was issued (PRT- 
787554) on January 17, 1995, fully eleven months and nine days from the date when application 
was submitted. I would also add that this is the seventh such permit request submitted by the 
same applicant, for the same species, and for the same conservation program. 

Clearly the intent of the WBCA was to control the large scale importation of wild birds 
into the United States, principally psittacines, that were destined for the pet trade. When this 
act was first circulated for public comment we were generally in agreement with its stated intent, 
that being the control of wild birds being imported for the pet trade. However, upon 
implementation the WBCA has gone far beyond its original stated intent of controlling the 
importation of wild birds for the pet trade, but now includes aU wild birds imported for any 
reason, including legitimate conservation. 

On two different occasions, prior to the implementation of the WBCA, The Peregrine 
Fund has provided written comment (copy enclosed) to the USFWS recommending that all 
Falconi formes be excluded form the provisions of the WBCA on the rational that (1) raptors 
have never been included in any pet trade, (2) raptors are already subject to the strictest control 
of any bird group in this country and can only be possessed under stringent federal and state 
permit, (3) raptors are already adequately protected under CITES, ESA, and MBTA. (4) the 
WBCA represents an additional permitting hurdle for both applicants and service personnel, 
seriously interfering with our ability as a nation to contribute to raptor conservation on an 
international level. 

Mollie Beattie 



159 



Mollie Beattie 
Page Three 
April 25, 1995 



The additional pennitting requirements resulting from the WBCA clearly add another 
level of complication to a system that already does not work well. The cost in time, money, and 
frustration for both the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the applicant are significant and 
without justification. More importantly, the WBCA, as it is currently being implemented, 
represents a negative impact upon the very resource that we are both trying to conserve. 

Once again we request that all Falconiformes be excluded from the provisions of the 
WBCA as has already been provided for ten other families. 

Thank you for our consideration. 

Sincerely yours. 



^G'^^^^^''cJ2*^,*'<^-Mv__ 



William Bumham, Ph.D. 
President 



WABpwb 



160 



^ The Peregrine Fund 

WORLD CENTER FOR BIRDS OF PREY 

Focusing on birds of prey Jot conservation of nature 



^ 




May 12, 1994 



Director, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
1849 C Street NW 
42 ARLSQ 
Washington, DC 20240 

Re: Comment, Proposed Rule; Importation of Exotic 

Wild Birds to the United States; Proposed Rule 
Implementing the WBCA of 1992; Federal Resistor, Vol. 59, 
pp. 12784 et seq., March 17, 1994 

Dear Madam: 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the above 
referenced proposed regulations. Our recommendation is sir.ple - 
exclude all Falconif ormes from the provisions of the Wild Bird 
Protection Act (WBCA) . 

As an organization we base the recommendation on almost 25 
years of experience nationally and internationally, primarily in 
research and conservation of birds of prey and their habitats. We 
have cooperated on projects in over 4 countries on six continents. 
Personally our combined experience with raptor research and 
conservation internationally exceeds sixty years. 

Import of raptors into the United States does not jeopardize 
any species or population internationally. The WBCA provides no 
benefit to Falconif ormes, in fact it does just the opposite by 
causing those working to conserve raptors to waste their time 
dealing with yet another set of regulations and application 
procedures. CITES, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the 
Endangered Species Act already provide more than adequate 
protection and regulation for Falconif or-es. 






161 



Page Two 
May 12, 1994 

Having Falconiformes and other groups of avian species that 
biologically are not threatened by commercial import to the United 
States included in the WBCA discourages research and conservation 
on those species. We are required to expend organizational and 
personal resources (time, money, and personnel) uselessly to comply 
with overly complex regulations when those resources are 
desperately needed to conserve the world's biological diversity. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely yours, 



William Burnham, Ph.D. 
President 




'i^-J^^ 




162 



United States Department ot the Interior Wal 



FISH VM) WILDLIFE StRMCE 
WASHINGTON. DC. •.'0240 



In Reply Refer To: 
FWS/OMA 2-06r 



To whom it may concern: 

Enclosed you will find a copy of two recently published Federal Register 
notices that relate to the implementation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service of the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA). The Office of 
Management Authority (OMA) has primary responsibility for implementation of 
the WBCA, in cooperation with the Division of Law Enforcement and the 
Office of Scientific Authority. 

The first notice, published on August 10, 1993, announced species for which 
the importation quota pursuant to the WBCA has been met. The second 
notice, published on August 12, 1993, is a notice of proposed rulemaking 
that proposes regulations implementing the prohibitions and requirements 
stipulated in the WBCA and provides permit requirements and procedures for 
some allowed exemptions. Please note that the second notice has a 30-day 
comment period; comments must be received in this office by September 13, 
1993, in order to be considered in the formulation of a final rule. 

Effective October 22, 1993, imports of all CITES-listed birds are 
prohibited, except for species included in an approved list, or for which 
an import permit has been issued. The Service will publish a proposed 
rulemaking establishing the approved list in a separate notice in the very 
near future. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Or. Susan Lieberman, 
CITES Policy Specialist in OMA, at (703) 358-2093. 



Sincerely, 

-^Marshall Jones, Chief 

Office of Management Authority 



Enclosures .^-^--^'-^ 






163 



^ 



WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY 



26 September- 199b 



Representative Jim Saxl.on, Chair 

Sobcommi ttee on Ktaheries, Wildlife, ajid Oceane 

U.B. House of Kepreaentativee 

339 ('tmrion House Oflic« Building 

Washington, D.C. 20falb 

Dear Mr. Chnirnian, 

This letter is to urge you and your fellow coimnittee members to 
fully support the reauthorization of the U.S. Wild Bird 
Conservation Ant (WBCA) in its entirety. This bill has been 
succeasfiil in stopping the U.S. from providing incentives that In 
the past led to cruel. Irrational, and unsustainable "mining' of 
large parrots and macaws from tropical rain forests and savaiuiahs 
of the globe. The bill also has provided a tremendous positive 
stimulus to responsible breeders and ranchers of exotic birds, 
both in the United States and abroad. 



When done properly, such captive breeding and wild ranching can 
provide sustainable and humane sources of exotic birds for pet 
owners and hobblest bird breeders. Responsible bird breeding is 
harmless to wild populations of exotic species, while sustainable 
wild ranching could actually be very beneficial to wild 
F>opulation8 by providing wild birds with additional nesting sites 
and planted food. Furthermore, such wild ranching operations 
would hire forest g\iards to protect resident wild birds (most 
valuable parrots are resident year round) from meat or feather 
hunters and from roving trappers. 

Any weakening of the bills carefully- thought-out provisions 
likely would open loopholes for illegaJ Importing into the U.S. 
that would produce incentive to "launder" wild caught adult 
birds, passing them off as legitimate captive bred birds. 
Moreover, such dangerous loopholes would also lead to the 
unsustainable destruction of wild nest trees for one-time 
harvests of young birds on public lands or on lands owned by 
distant, absentee investors or companies. 'llie WBCA is the best 
legislative tool yet for encouraging tropical countries to 
rethink, rerirganize, and clean up their means of production and 
export of exotic birds. 



164 



WILDLIFE CONStRVATION SOCIETY 

1 have reml uarefiilly and approve entirely of the existing 
longuaflR in th« section o± the WBCA (Section 107) that deals with 
how a loreign captive breeding facility can qualify to export 
captive bred birds to the U.S. T))at section is perfect the way 
it is. It is not especially lenient on foreign facilltieB, and 
does not give them much benefit of the doubt, but given the 
number of phony captive breeding facilities in the tropical 
countries (including a number that I personally have 
investigated), it is entirely appropriate that this section 
remain strong and set high stajndards. Keeping this section 
strong is what genei-ates incentive within tropical range 
countries for local governments and land owners to experiment 
with sustainable, humane methods of parrot ranching that will 
help rather than harm wild populations. In fact, such 
sustainable wild rnnnhing wouJd provide Incentive for parrot 
ranchers to protect wild habitat and to bring adult breeding 
fopuJations to their maximum wlJd carrying capacity (Juat aa 
cattle ranchers try to increase their herd of valuable, 
reproducing females) . 



i:k)ftHnir)g section 10V would only open loopholes for unsustainably 
caught wl 1(1 birds to ooroe into the U.S. under the guise of 
'captive bred". Opening such loopholes would allow the 
irresponsible, cruel wholesale parrot exporters from the tropical 
countries and the ten large importers in the U.S. to return to 
the destructive, immoral "business as usual" of trafficking birds 
from wherever and whomever shows up on the doorstep with a cage 
Jammed with a mixture of stressed, sick and less sick parrots. 

C)n another specific issue, 1 notice that some irresponsible 
people who call themselves "avlculturisto ' are claiming 
erroneoosly that tl)ere are identification syatems in use within 
the community of American bird hobbiests that can readily 
distingxilsh captive -bred and hatched birds from birds found In 
the wild iX)pulation- If they are referring to closed bands put 
on babies soon after hatching or microchipping baby kjirds soon 
after hatching (by injecting a small, electronically-readable 
microchip in the breast muscJe of the bird), then they are 
misleading you. In fact, both of these techniques can be carried 
out in the wild on i I Jegally-caught wild baby birds, which then 
can be passed off aa captive-bred birds. If a reliable 
independent authoi'ity (either a government or "non-avlcultural ' 
oonaervatlon group) controlled the production, disti'ibution, and 
oversight of non-counterf el table microchips with unique, non- 
ooplable cK)defi, then it might be possible to design a system that 
could eJiminate cheating. Hut as of yet, such a system does not 
exist and, to my knowledge, has not even been proposed. 



165 



WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY 



Prior to the act, there was no Incentive for a producer country 
in the tropics to encourage careful, thoughtful production of 
ranched wild birds. 'ITiub. prior to the act, no tropical land 
owner had any reason for developing reeponeible parrot ranching, 
which migJit include hanging extra nest boxes and taking, raising, 
and selling only the last hatched or runt chicks from these 
boxes. Kather, prior to the WtfM, all parrots exported from 
tropical countries were mined in a cruel, nonsustainable manner 
that led to heavy post- trapping mortality and the inevitable 
"tragedy-ot-the-commons" style deBtruction of wild parrot 
populatioriB by irresponsible, roving trapperB. 

Now, for the first time, tropical peoples who own and manage 
their rain forests (such as the 11,000 Indians and rain forest 
colonists that I have helped land title in ajj area the size of 
Connecticut in Peru over the past ten years — see 5 Dec 1994 issue 
of TIHK magazine) have a reason and incentive to consider 
sustainable, humane parrot ranching in wild rainforest habitat as 
a way to add value to their standing forest. In this way, they 
may find that parrot ranching that follows the riilee of the WBCA 
may provide them with a fxin and sustainable income source from 
intact rain forest (a habitat type that may be exhuberant and 
blologicalJy diverse, but unfortunately is generally quite 
inedible and unmarketable unless cleared and replaced by coffee' 
and chocolate plantations, which are only partially sustainable 
In poor Amazonian soils). 

As far as the complaints lodged about the WBCA by people who call 
themselves "avlculturists" . these people traditionally always 
have Bhown the greatest coi»cern about maintaining unlimited 
access to low-priced birds, from whatever source. For them, 
collecting and breeding birds Is an obsession that knows few 
limits. They claim to be concerned about the conservation of 
these species in the wild, but in fact they normally donate 
little time or cash to field conservation efforts (which for 99X 
of endangered bird species ave much more cost effective dollar 
for dollar than are captive breeding conservation efforts). 
Nowadays, many of the most aggressive "avlculturists" devote 
considerable resources and time to lobbying for changes to the 
WBCA that would allow easy import of so-called "captive bred" 
birds produced at foreign facilitiee. I know from my ptersonal 
experience of 20 years as a research scientist in Peru, Bolivia, 
Brazil, and Paraguay, that many, if not most or all, facilities 
in tropical countries that claim to be producing and selling only 
captive bred birds are actually Just laundering illegally caught 
wild birds. Thus, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is quite 
correct to be very suspicious of any foreign facilities that 
claim to be squeaky clean. 



166 



\ 



-^- 



WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY 

The only way to get the incentive system right aiid thereby 
encoarage the development of sustainable and humane methods of 
captive breeding and wild ranching of parrots is to keep the WBCA 
fitrong and Intact. Anything else will simply play into the hands 
of those whose principal (thoiigb often hidden) agenda Is to 
maintain an unlimited flow of inexpensive parrots to satisfy 
their mania for i>arrot collecting and trading. It is important 
for you and your colleagues to see through the smokescreen of 
conservation rhetoric eoianating from some "avicultural" 
organizations, for study after study has demonstrated that the 
most cost effective way to conserve wild species of parrots or 
most other large vertebrates is not through captive breeding in 
zioos and in private collections, but rather through measures to 
protect wild populations together with the habitat on which they 
depend . 



Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to answer any 
questions you may have about the excellent features of the Wild 
Bird Conservation Act. 

BincereJy, 

Charles A. Munn, Ph.D. 
Senior Conservation Zoologist 

fax in the U.S. 215 923 5535, tel 3641 

tel/fax in Peru (where I am until 1 return to U.S. on 5 Nov 

1995): 011 51 14 498569 or 811 51 14 307170. 



167 



NlfliSi^/i- BennyJ. Gallaway, Ph.D. 

Director of Conservation 

1410 Cavitt Street 

Bryan, Texa-s 77801 

(409) 775-2000 




26 October 1995 



The Honorable Jim Saxton 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Fisheries 

WildHfe & Oceans 
Committee on Resources 
U.S. House of Representatives 
Hl-805 O'Neill House Office Building 
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Congressman Saxton: 

I wish to provide comment on the written testimony of Dr. S.R. 
Beissinger presented to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 
on 28 September 1995 concerning the reauthorization of the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act of 1992. The part I wish to address is found on pages 5 and 6 
of his testimony under the heading "Captive Breeders Do Not Need 
Continued Access to Wild Stocks". In that section, he asserts that, with 
cooperative management, only 50 to 75 birds per species are needed to 
constitute a viable gene pool for a captive population. This statement is 
predicated on the stated premise that limited genetic diversity is required for 
maintaining permanent captive populations not used for reintroduction to 
the wild. This premise acknowledges that an unstated amount of genetic 
diversity will be lost, but in his view this will not affect the ability of 
aviculturists to continue to produce birds, albeit with ever-decreasing genetic 
diversity and resemblance to the wild stock. We disagree. Within a very 
short time, the captive populations will not be valuable as a conservation 
hedge to extinction, even as a last resort. Under Dr. Beissinger's scenario, the 
genetic fitness of the captive population would decline to a status where the 
only value of the birds produced would be to supply the domestic pet trade. 
Further, the captive population would be doomed to ultimate extinction 
without extraordinary genetic management at a level which has heretofore 
not been achieved (due to rapid acceleration of inbreeding coefficients) by any 
sector, public or private. The genetic tools and technology required to achieve 
the level of management that is suggested are only recently emerging. 



HMCMICAN FCDCRIITION Of HVICUITUHC. INC. 

P.O. BOX 56218 PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85079-6218 (602) 484-0931 



168 



The mission statement of the American Federation of Aviculture 
(AFA) is "To preserve avian species on a worldwide basis". To achieve this 
mission requires that we have to maintain genetic diversity in our captive 
populations in order to preserve the fitness of species in captivity as close as 
possible to their wild counterparts. To do otherwise would foreclose future 
conservation options. Zoological Parks have the same mission regarding 
captive populations, but have limited space and funding to accommodate all 
the species needing a captive-population hedge against extinction. Zoological 
institutions are often referred to as being analogous to "Noah's Ark". 
However, there is concern about how many and which species can be 
accommodated in the Ark, and how many individuals of each species will be 
necessary to survive a trip of unknown — but likely very long — duration. The 
private sector can expand the Ark to a "fleet" allowing for more species and 
greater survival rates. 

Given the fact that preservation of genetic diversity of birds in private- 
sector collections is important, still leaves the unanswered question of how 
many birds of each species are needed? As must be well-known to Dr. 
Beissinger, the concept that a nucleus population of 50 to 75 birds can be 
managed to maintain the genetic diversity of a captive population over the 
long-term has been discredited. In a 1993 paper in Zoo Biology (12), pages 535 
to 548, Kevin Willis and Robert J. Wiese evaluated the premise that a small 
nucleus population (50 to 75 individuals) supplemented by periodic 
importation of wild-caught animals could be used to maintain the same 
amount of gene diversity as larger populations that do not import wild- 
caught animals. Assuming a "perfect population" regarding breeding 
population size, sex ratios, productivity etc. (all of which would maximize 
retention of gene diversity) mathematical models were used to conduct a 
comparative analysis. Even for this unrealistic "perfect population" the 
results were staggering. For populations of 50 to 100, 10 to 20 times more 
wild-caught animals were required for each generation than had been 
suggested based upon untested theory. The results showed that if the 210 
species recommended to be managed in this fashion were established with 
total captive population sizes of 100 each, then 5,040 new wild-caught animals 
would have to be imported each generation to maintain 98% of the original 
gene diversity. The authors concluded that, "clearly, this approach is not 
practical for application on a large scale". AFA concurs with this and with the 
four conclusions of the paper: 

" 1. Regular importation of wild-caught animals will allow 
continued maintenance of gene diversity in captive 
populations. 

2. The Nucleus I population concept, as defined and promoted 
by the CBSG, would require 10-20 times greater importation 
rates than indicated by the CBSG. This factor makes wide 



169 



use of the Nucleus I concept an inefficient strategy for 
conservation of gene diversity. 

3. Small captive populations can be effective for some 
conservation goals but are not appropriate for long-term 
retention of gene diversity. 

4. Regional taxon advisory groups developing regional 
collection plans should not rely on a single "blanket" 
strategy (e.g., 90% gene diversity/100 years) for all captive 
breeding programs, but rather, use a number of different 
strategies based on the most effective use of captive space 
for species conservation." 

In our verbal testimony before the Committee, AFA suggested that 
1,000 individuals was more realistic than 50 to 75 as the minimum captive 
population size necessary to maintain genetic diversity. The basis for this 
number comes from the 1995 National Research Council (NRC) report on 
Science and the Endangered Species Act, pages 8 and 9: 

"If the members of the population do not mate with each other 
at random (the case for most natural populations), then the 
effect of small size on loss of genetic variation is made more 
severe; the population is said to have a smaller effective size 
than its true size. Populations with long-term mean sizes 
greater than approximately 1,000 breeding adults can be viewed 
as genetically secure; any further increase in size would be 
unlikely to increase the amount of adaptive variation in a 
population. If the effective population size is substantially 
smaller than actual population size, this conclusion can translate 
into a goal for survival for many species of maintaining 
populations with more than a thousand mature individuals per 
generation, perhaps several thousand in some cases. An 
appropriate, specific estimate of the number of individuals 
needed for long—term survival of any particular population 
must be based on knowledge of the population's breeding 
structure and ecology. If information on that species is lacking, 
information about a related species might be useful." 

The key point we wish to make is not that the minimum population 
size should be 1,000 instead of 50, but rather that the use of blanket numbers 
like these should be avoided in the regulations. Such requirements can lead 
to unexpected foreclosures of future conservation options. However, AFA 
recognizes that a much better job of genetic management can be accomplished 
than is presently the case, and that much can be done with less than optimum 
population sizes, or less than desired numbers of new founders in the form of 
wild-caught exotic birds. One key to reducing the need for new wild-caught 



170 



founders is that American aviculturists have access to captive-bred stock in 
other countries. This is one basis for our insistence that incentives be 
provided for international trade in captive-bred species. The emerging DNA 
technology is already able to provide insurance against laundering, which is 
only a concern for a relatively small number of high-profile, problematic 
species. The need for such insurance would better be addressed on a permit- 
by-permit basis rather than being incorporated as a part of the general 
regulations. 

Dr. Beissinger has long advocated that "when implemented properly 
and conservatively, sustainable harvesting of exotic birds could provide 
advantages for conservationists, aviculturists, the pet industry and local 
peoples" (see page 6 of his written testimony). To accomplish such a 
sustainable harvesting goal, however, requires that a market exists for the 
target species. Maintaining the genetic diversity of captive populations is one 
of the few justifications that can be offered regarding harvest of wild exotic 
birds for international trade. We hope that Congress, in its review of the 
present WBCA, will make the changes necessary to assure the continued and 
healthy existence of America's aviculture. 

Thank you for your consideration of my comments. 

Sincerely 

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE 




Benny J. Gallaway, Ph.D. 
Director of Conservation 

BJG/je 

cc Dr. S. R. Beissinger 

Ms. Laurella Desborough 
Mr. Bob Berry 



171 




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October 27, 1995 



Congressman Jim Saxton, Chairman 
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 
U. S. House of Representatives 
HI -805 O'Neill House Office Building 
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Congressman Saxton: 

On 28 September 1995 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) 
presented testimony on behalf of our 2.3 million members. Defenders of 
Wildlife, Environmental Investigation Agency, Soaety for Animal 
Protective Legislation and other conservation and animal protection 
organizations before the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, 
Wildlife and Oceans (Subcommittee) on the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation 
Act (Act). We strongly support this law, which has made the United 
States a leader in efforts to protect exotic wild birds, and urge the 
Subcommittee to reauthorize the Act without any language changes. 

It was evident during the hearing that almost all of the concerns relating to 
the Art could be addressed through increased funding. An increase in 
funding would enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Seivice) to issue 
permits, implement regulations and address constituent concerns m a more 
expeditious and responsive manner. Simplification of the permitting 
process through changes in the language of the Art is not necessary. 
When deliberating on the most appropriate course of action in terms ot 
the reauthorization, we urge the Subcommittee to pursue this route, which 
is the only option that received the support of all groups testifying at the 
hearing. 

Our written testimony has addressed already most of the proposed changes 
to the Wild Bird Conservation Art which were presented at the 28 
September hearing. Specifically, any weakening of the requirements for 
importing captive-bred birds from overseas breeding faalities or the 
removal of language granting the Secretary of the Interior the authority to 
impose limited marking programs would compromise the intent of the Art 
and severely limit the Semces' ability to curtail smuggling. The request 
that captive-bred birds be exempted entirely from the provisions of the Art 



The lIunianL' .Society of llic Initcil Stmcs 
2100 L SlrcL-t, NW. WjishiniSton. DC 2(M).17 
(202) 4,S2-IIO0 F.V\ (202) 778-61.^2 



172 



is wholly unreasonable. Aviculturists and conservationists agree that there is no practical 
method for distinguishing a captive-bred bird from a wild-caught bird. Therefore, should 
such provisions be implemented, birds that were removed from the wild could easily be 
smuggled into the U.S. under the false claim that they were bred in captivity. Operation 
Renegade-an ongoing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation into the trade in exotic 
birds-reveals that smugglers commonly disguise illegal, wild birds as captive bred in order 
to access the United States pet market. 

Contrary to statements made during the oversight hearing, captive-bred birds are now 
entering the United States. The Act contains several mechanisms to ensure the 
continuation of such imports, such as the "clean list" in Section 106 and the exemptions 
outlined in Section 112. In addition, the Act has no effect upon the importation of 
captive-bred birds of species that are not Usted under the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Admittedly, the Service 
does need to finalize the regulations for the approval of foreign captive breeding facilities, 
but until these regulations are complete, aviculturists can import captive-bred birds 
through the above mechanisms. 

Listed below are additional proposed changes to the Act that surfaced during the 
oversight hearing, followed by our rebuttals. Those within the animal protection and 
conservation community that are truly interested in the conservation of exotic wild birds 
oppose these changes to the Act. We compromised a great deal during the negotiation 
process leading up to the implementation of the Act and we would find any further 
weakening of its provisions completely unacceptable. 



Proposed Change : Amend the Wild Bird Conservation Act so that species listed on 
Appendix III of CITES are only included within the scope or the Act for those countries 
unilaterally listing the species. 

Limiting the current scope of the moratorium upon importation of Appendix III bird 
species would violate the intent of the Act by significantly reducing protections for 
hundreds of thousands of wild birds and by promoting smuggling. Section 105(c) of the 
Act states that "the importation of any exotic bird of a species that is listed in any 
Appendix to the Convention is prohibited." The American Federation of Aviculture 
(AFA), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 
have requested that this language be "clarified", suggesting that the import moratorium for 
Appendix III birds should be limited to those birds originating from countries which have 
unilaterally listed the species on Appendix III. Yet the U.S. District Court for the District 
of Columbia already "clarified" this issue in 1994 with its ruling in The Humane Society of 
the United States, et al. v. Bruce H. Babbitt et al. The Court found that the import 
prohibitions in the Act are stated in a clear and unambiguous manner, and that the Act 
restricts the importation of any species listed on any Appendix to CITES, regardless of the 
country of origin. 



173 



The AFA, WWF and PIJAC argue that not all individuals of species listed on Appendix 
III are regulated by CITES, and contend that the scope of the Act's import prohibitions 
for Appendix III species should be limited accordingly. However, all individuals of species 
listed on Appendix III are subject to CITES controls, regardless of the country of origin. 
All individuals of species included on Appendix III must be accompanied by a certificate 
of origin at the time of import. 

Easing the current import prohibitions on Appendix III birds in the manner that the AFA, 
PIJAC and WWF request would strip protections from hundreds of thousands of birds. 
Species that are subject to high levels of trade would be excluded from the scope of the 
Wild Bird Conservation Act. Between 1986 and 1989 more than 150,000 birds of species 
listed on Appendix III were imported into the United States. The vast majority of these 
birds were finches, which frequently suffer exceptionally high mortality during transport. 
In 1989, more than 43,000 finches died during transport to the United States and 
quarantine, and in March 1991, more than 10,000 finches died during a single shipment to 
the United States. Limiting the prbhibition on importation of Appendix III birds would 
also undermine the efforts of listing countries such as Ghana to protect their indigenous 
birds. Wild birds would be illegally caught in countries prohibiting export, smuggled into 
neighboring countries which allow exportation, and then "laundered" into the legal trade. 
The Act's existing prohibition on the importation of all birds listed Appendix III must be 
maintained. 



Proposed Chanpe : Amend Section 106 to allow the "List of Approved Species" to include 
all species which are regularly bred in captivity, regardless of whether there is illegal 
trade in wild-caught individuals of the species. 

Expanding the Section 106 exemption to cover all captive-bred birds regardless of whether 
any wild-caught birds of the same species are being traded illegally would undermine the 
Act and serve to promote the smuggling of exempted species. Currently, species that are 
regularly bred in captivity and for which no wild-caught individuals of the species are in 
trade, may be included on the Act's approved list. Trade in these species is therefore not 
subjert to regulation under the Act. The AFA is requesting that requirements for 
inclusion on the approved list be modified so that any species which is commonly bred in 
captivity may be placed on the approved list, even if wild-caught individuals of the species 
continue to be illegally traded. The Service specifically rejerted this proposal when 
formulating their final regulations in 1992, citing existing problems in adequate regulatory 
and enforcement mechanisms in many countries of origin for species which are subject to 
illegal trade. According to the Service, this change to the approval criteria would 
undermine the conservation efforts of range countries, and therefore violates the intent of 
Congress and the purpose of the Act (59 FR 62257). Exempting species for which illegal 
trade continues would remove any legal means of ensuring that imported birds are not 
smuggled, wild-caught individuals. Amending the Act in this manner would therefore 
legalize the importation of smuggled wild-caught birds. If this proposed change were 
accepted, the importation of smuggled birds would essentially be legalized. 



174 



Suggestion : Amend regulations implementing Section 112(4) to eliminate requirements 
that participants in a cooperative breeding program be required to track progeny. 

Exempting cooperative breeding programs from tracking and recordkeeping requirements, 
as suggested by the AFA and PIJAC, would significantly undermine the purpose of 
Section 112 and the Act as a whole. Pursuant to this section, the Service must ensure that 
birds imported for scientific research, zoological breeding or display, cooperative breeding 
programs or as personal pets are used exclusively for the purpose for which the permit was 
issued. In the House Committee Report on the Wild Bird Conservation Act, Congress 
indicated that applicants for permits for cooperative breeding progrzuns must be able to 
"demonstrate that he or she is capable and fuUy intends to keep track of the whereabouts 
of the offspring of birds that are imported under this exemption." Therefore, the 
regulations adopted under Section 112 require those applying for the approval of a 
cooperative breeding program to have in place a system of recordkeeping and tracking of 
imported birds and their progeny. These regulations neither dictate a specific tracking 
system or technology, nor do they require that the tracking data be forwarded to the 
Service at any time. These regulations are essential to prevent the utilization of imported 
birds for purposes other than those authorized by the permit, and should not be eliminated. 



Suegestion : Remove Section 107 of the Act, which requires that all birds exported from 
an approved foreign breeding facility actually be bred at that facility. 

Eliminating or weakening Section 107 as recommended by the Association of Avian 
Veterinarians (AAV) would increase significantly the threat of illegal wild-caught birds 
entering the United States under the false claim that they are captive-bred. The Act 
allows the importation of otherwise prohibited bird species from qualified foreign captive 
breeding facihties. To ensure that these birds are indeed captive bred and not wild 
caught. Section 107(b) specifies six criteria for the determination of "qualified" foreign 
breeding facilities, one of which requires that all birds exported from the facility be bred 
at that facility. These requirements prevent birds of unknown origin, especially illegal, 
wild-caught birds, from entering the legal trade. Without these requirements, wild-caught 
birds could easily be laundered as captive bred. Section 107 is vital to ensuring that the 
trade in captive-bred exotic birds does not become a drain on wild populations, and 
should not be weakened or eliminated. 



Proposed Change : Amend Section 104 to exempt all Falconiformes from the Wild Bird 
Conservation Act. 

The North American Falconers Association proposes that all raptors be exempted from 
the Act because raptor imports are already subject to regulation under the Endangered 
Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Art and CITES. In addition, they claim that wild 
populations are already sufficiently protected under these laws. 



175 



Falconiformes must continue to receive protection under the Wild Bird Conservation Act 
because wild individuals remain in trade. Consumer demand for these species has proven 
to result in illegal trade. Also, wild individuals have been laundered as having been bred 
in captivity. Other avian species subject to regulation under the Act are also regulated by 
several federal laws. Falconiformes must remain regulated by the Act because other 
federal laws do not adequately protect wild populations from unsustainable trade. 



Proposed Change : Add a section to the Act stipulating that any offspring bom in the 
United States of illegally acquired exotic birds be deemed legal. 

This proposal, put forth by the AFA, would promote smuggUng of wild exotic birds for 
private collections. Some of the most endangered exotic bird species were never legally 
exported from their countries of origin, so the owners of these birds are known to have 
participated i:i or supported illegal activities. Legalizing the offspring of these birds would 
allow these individuals to openly obtain notoriety for illegally possessing rare and 
endangered species. It would also allow them to profit significantly from selling these 
illegal birds or their offspring. The legalization of offspring of iUegally acquired birds 
would increase the smuggling of wild individuals of these species in order to augment 
parental stock for so-called legal" production. For many rare and endangered species, 
such an increase in illegal trade could result in extinction. 



We are confident that the Subcommittee will recognize that these amendments, if accepted, 
would severely undermine the ability of the Act to achieve its intended purpose of promoting 
the conservation of exotic birds in the wild. The requirements which the AFA, PIJAC, WWF 
and AAV are suggesting be weakened or eliminated were included specifically to curtail the 
likeUhood of wild exotic birds being laundered into the United States under the claim that 
they are captive bred. To ensure the continued success of the Act, it must be reauthorized 
without any weakening amendments. 



Sincerely, 




^j^:^ 



John W. Grandy 

Vice-President 

Wildlife and Habitat Protection 

The Humane Society of the Urtited States 

Allan TTiomton, President 
Environmental Investigation Agency 




\)^x^jt U'^ 



James K. Wyerman 
Vice-President for Program 
Defenders of Wildlife 



Christine Stevens, Secretary 

Society for Animal Protective Legislation 



176 



enviranmental investigation agency 



The Honorable James Saxton 

Chairman 

House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 

Hl-805 O'Neill Building 

Washington, DC 20515 

October 27, 1995 

Dear Mr. Saxton: 

I am writing in response to a September 27, 1995, letter from Mr. Frank Curie, President of 
Zoological Birds Import of Franklin Park, Illinois. Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-111, 6th) 
submitted this letter into the record of the oversight hearing on the U.S. Wild Bird 
Conservation Act (WBCA). In his accompanying letter Mr. Hyde stated that the WBCA has 
"punished" Mr. Curie and that the Aa needs to be "fixed". However, Mr. Curie's list of 
"complaints" involve violations of federal laws and regulations totally unrelated to the 
WBCA. In fact, the majority of his referenced "problems" actually occurred before the Act's 
passage in October 1992. 

Mr. Curie can hardly be described as a "law abiding citizen". The majority of his claims of 
abuse and harassment involve monetary fines Mr. Curie was ordered to pay in compensation 
for blatant and continuing violations of the federal laws and regulations which govern the 
wildlife import industry. As he describes in his own letter, Mr. Curie has a consistent 
history of violating the federal regulations governing the humane transport of wildlife. 

Because of the low prices paid for most bird species in developing countries, insuring 
humane care for these animals becomes an unnecessary inconvenience for many importers. 
Mr. Curie's cruel treatment of these birds begins with his numerous violations of transport 
standards and ends after the 30-day required quarantine with death for large numbers of birds 
at his facilities. In 1994, the most recent year for which data is available, over 4,000 exotic 
birds died in Mr. Curie's possession. His company holds one of the highest rates of 
mortality for exotic birds imported into the United States - 18% of his birds imported were 
either dead on arrival or died during quarantine. 

Mr. Curie mentions the Environmental Investigation Agency in his letter to Mr. Hyde. In 
1994, I witnessed the arrival of a large shipment of wild birds in New York and the 
unpacking of these birds in a conmiercial quarantine station. The shipment violated 
numerous federal regulations governing the humane transport of these birds. As a result, 
dozens of dead birds were removed from the crates during unpacking. In addition, the 
required procedures for insuring secure quarantine of the birds (in order to prevent the spread 
of harmful disease) were violated repeatedly. Such infractions are a severe threat to the 
multimillion dollar poultry industry here in the United States. 



1611 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 3B • Washington, D.C 20009 Tel: (202) 483-6621 • Fax:(202)483-6625 
Directors: Susan Fountain, Jennifer Lonsdale, Allan Thornton 



177 



Mr. Curie falsely claims that the "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service successfully stopped 
American Airlines from carrying. ..(his) bird shipments to the United States." Presently over 
one hundred international airlines, understanding that tens of thousands of live wild birds die 
in transport every year, have adopted policies not to transport live wild birds for the 
commercial pet trade. These airlines do not wish to participate in a cruel trade that has had 
significant adverse effects on the conservation of many wild avian populations. The U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service was never involved in any efforts to influence the transport policies 
of these airiines. Information on the trade was provided by a large number of non-profit 
conservation, environmental and animal welfare organizations. These carrier restrictions 
continue to receive wide support from the American public. 

In his letter, Mr. Curie claims that the I^S has eliminated twenty-three other bird 
importation businesses. Mr. Saxton, many of the largest commercial importers have put 
themselves out of business— they have been indicted, convicted or sentenced for laundering 
protected bird species into the "legal" trade. Their profits were in the millions of dollars. 
The trade in wild birds for pets has proven to be rife with corruption. 

Mr. Curie's letter has no relation to the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act and should not 
have been submitted into the hearing record. The Act, adopted by unanimously by Congress 
and signed into law in 1992, simply insures that U.S. imports of wild birds are both humane 
and sustainable. We hope you will lend your support to reauthorization of this important 
federal law without changes. 

Thank you for your attention. 
Sincerely, (^ X 



<^^2^r4.^o<^>C2S> 



Aim Michels 

Wildlife Trade Specialist 



cc: The Honorable Henry J. Hyde 



178 



Conservation, Scientific, Environmental 

and Animal Welfare Organizations Support 

Reauthorization of the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act 



The Honorable James Saxton 

Chairman 

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans 

U.S. House of Representatives 

Washington, DC 20515 

October 25, 1995 



Dear Mr. Saxton: 

The undersigned organizations support reauthorization of the U.S. Wild Bird 
Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA) without changes. In particular, we oppose 
any weakening of WBCA requirements for the importation of foreign, captive-bred 
birds. Strict federal regulations are necessary in order to insure that imported 
exotic birds, claimed to be captive-bred have been genuinely bred-in-captivity. 
Otherwise wild birds, even threatened and protected species, could easily enter 
the United States in violation of federal law. 

The U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act is a critical tool to promote the conservation 
of exotic birds in the wild. Prior to its implementation, the United States was the 
world's leading importer of wild birds for pets -more than 7.4 million birds were 
imported between 1980 and 1991. High mortalities of birds in trade necessitated 
that many times the number sold be captured in the wild. Since implementation 
of the WBCA, U.S. imports of wild exotic birds have declined drastically. This 
Act is giving wild populations a chance to recover from decades of destructive, 
unsustainable trade for the U.S. pet market. 

Thank you for your support on this important issue. 

Sincerely, 

Alaska Wildlife Alliance 

American Humane Association 

American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 

Animal Protection Institute of America 

(page 1) 



179 



Association of Field Ornitlioiogists 

Audubon Council of Pennsylvania 

Audubon Naturalist Society 

Audubon Society of New York State 

Audubon Society of Missouri 

Audubon Society of New Hampstiire 

Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon 

Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Foundation 

Border Ecology Project 

Connecticut Audubon Society 

Defenders of Wildlife 

Delmarva Ornittiological Council 

Earth Island Institute 

Environmental Defense Fund 

Environmental Investigation Agency 

Florida Audubon Society 

Friends of Animals 

Friends of the Earth 

Fund for Animals 

Greater Akron Audubon Society (Akron, Ohio) 

Greenwich (Connecticut) Audubon Society 

Hawaii Audubon Society 

Humane Society of the United States 

Illinois Audubon Society 

Indiana Audubon Society 

International Primate Protection League 

International Wildlife Coalition 

Maryland Ornithological Society 

Massachusetts Audubon Society 

Michigan Audubon Society 

National Audubon Society 

Nebraska Audubon Council 

New Jersey Audubon Society 

New Jersey Chapter of the Wildlife Society 

New York City Audubon Society 

Rainforest Action Network 

Ranier Audubon Society (Auburn, Washington) 

Society for Animal Protection Legislation 

Tennessee Ornithological Society 

Texas Committee on Natural Resources 



(page 2) 



180 



The Ornithological Council 

representing the American Ornithologists' Union, The Cooper 
Ornithological Society, the Wilson Ornithological Society, the Colonial 
Waterbird Society, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Raptor 
Research Foundation, and the Pacific Seabird Group 

Vermont Audubon Council 

Virginia Ornithological Society 

Wildlife Conservation Society 

World Society for the Protection of Animals 



(page 3) 



181 



26 October 1995 

Congressman H. James Saxton 

House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans 

United States House of Representatives 

Hl-805 O'Neil House Office Building 

Washington DC 20515 

Dear Mr. Chairman and Subcommittee Members: 

I am writing to you regarding the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 
(WBCA; Public Law 102-440) and the Public Hearings held on 28 September 1995. 
I request that the enclosed letter and materials be included in the 
Congressional Hearing as a written testimony. The enclosed materials are: 

1. American Federation of Aviculture journal containing the article by 
Mr. Rick Jordan entitled "Conservation and Aviculture" found on pages 
45-47. I have not made copies for each Subcommittee member due to 
copyright laws. I respectfully request that each Subcommittee member 
refer to this journal as part of my testimony. 

2. My letter to the Editor-in-Chief of the American Federation of 
Aviculture regarding my opinion of this above mentioned article. 

3. An article from the Abaconian newspaper regarding the National Park 
that was developed for the protection of the Bahama parrot. It was 
published in May, 1994 on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. Research 
conducted by a well known field biologist was instrumental in the 
implementation of this park. This research appeared to be criticized by 
Mr. Jordan in the above mentioned article. 

4. Advertisement from American Federation of Aviculture referring to the 
WBCA. 

5. Article from the Breeders' Bulletin (October 1995) referring to the 
WBCA. 

I submit my curriculum vitae to the Subcommittee to substantiate ray 
position as a research scientist. However, I request that it is not included 
in the testimony package and remains confidential. Thank you. 

I, personally, take full responsibility for this testimony. It does not 
necessarily represent the views of any organizations or institutions with 
which I am affiliated. 

Sincerely, - 



Sincerely, - 

Patricia Wainright, Ph.D. 



182 



26 October 1995 

Congressman H. Jcunes Saxton 

House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans 

United States House of Representatives 

Hl-805 O'Neil House Office Building 

Washington DC 20515 

Dear Mr. Chairman and Subcommittee Members: 

I am writing to you regarding the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 
(WBCA; Public Law 102-440) and the Public Hearings held on 28 September 1995. 
I request that this letter be included in the Congressional Hearing as a 
written testimony. 

I strongly urge you and your committee members to support the continued 
implementation of the WBCA in its entirety. The WBCA was designed to protect 
exotic birds from inhumane treatment and over exploitation from their native 
habitats. The WBCA has had a monumentally positive impact on the conservation 
of exotic birds in foreign countries. Prior to its enactment, the U.S. 
appeared analogous to a large vacuum cleaner removing natural treasures such 
as exotic birds from their countries of origin. We cannot return to that 
irresponsible international distinction. 

Prior to the WBCA foreign countries were faced with overwhelming 
pressure from the U.S. to export their native birds. Authorities in these 
countries are now more effective in restricting or banning the exportation of 
their birds. I am a research scientist and I have worked on parrot 
conservation with Government and National Trust biologists in the West Indies. 
They are working hard to preserve their birds. They do not have the manpower 
or resources to monitor the poaching of birds for export to the U.S. Poachers 
destroy nests by cutting-down trees, killing many young birds and destroying 
nesting sites for subsequent years. These countries need our support by 
maintaining strict regulations at U.S. borders. 

The Act has provided incentives for captive breeding within the U.S. 
Aviculturists in New Jersey are thriving. In my home town, an aviculturist is 
doing so well that he doubled his facilities this year. 

I listened to and have closely studied the testimonies given during the 
WBCA Hearings from those individuals and groups supporting the Act and those 
opposing it. I was impressed with those statements presented by the WBCA 
supporters; their main interest was clearly the continued protection of exotic 
birds . 

I was dismayed with what I heard from those who testified for the bird- 
breeding industry. Their testimonies appeared self serving, and in many cases 
put their interests ahead of the birds that they profess to be protecting. 
Conservation is not taking birds from the wild, it is not weakening 
regulations for captive breeding facilities in foreign countries, and it is 
not making it economically convenient to import birds for a few. They claimed 
that "the regulations are burdensome and restrictive" . Regulations are 
restrictive because we, as a species, are greedy. Weakening the provisions of 
the Act will open loopholes for the illegal importation of wild-caught birds. 

The representative for the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) 
stated that she "opposes the current language in the WBCA that requires that 
all birds exported from an approved captive breeding facility be bred at that 



183 



facility". However, weakening Section 107, as was suggested, will open venues 
for illegal 'laundering' of wild-caught birds through loosely defined captive 
breeding facilities in foreign countries. Further, the Act will be 
ineffective in protecting birds from inhumane treatment if strict regulations 
are not placed on husbandry practices. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS) is in the process of establishing criteria for approving foreign 
breeding facilities. This section should not be weakened before it is even 
promulgated. 

The testimony sutanitted by the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) 
expressed their impatience with the WBCA in providing immediate results from 
sustainable-use population studies. Their view appears to be that if such 
studies are not con^leted in a timely manner, then iir^ortation should resume 
in an 'ignorance is bliss' manner. 

At the same time that AFA representatives testified at the Congressional 
Hearings that the U.S. government should be funding biological studies in the 
field, Mr. Rick Jordan (First Vice-President, AFA) outrageously criticized 
studies of parrot species in the field. Mr. Jordan referred to the WBCA as 
"stupid" in an article published in the AFA magazine (AFA Watchbird. 12(5) :45- 
47. 1995; enclosed). In my opinion this article galvanizes readers against 
the WBCA in its current form. How can he claim he supports the WBCA and 
conservation when he appears so cynical about scientific studies of birds in 
the wild? 

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is concerned that the 
WBCA is too restrictive and is therefore destroying the import industry. They 
claimed that there has been a decrease in the numbers of active importers from 
"30-40 to 6-7". The WBCA was designed for the protection of birds, not the 
economic interests of a few. If the U.S. appeared as a large vacuum cleaner, 
the importers appeared to represent the nozzle. 

Another issue presented by the AAV representative concerns the 
inconvenience of the permit application process. The permit application 
process was not designed to be convenient, it was made to be thorough. It 
takes time to verify the legitimacy of any request for import of species 
covered by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and 
the WBCA. My research in genetics requires feather seimples from several CITES 
bird species. The feathers are collected in a non-destructive manner, yet 
require import permits from the U.S. and export permits from the country of 
origin. My permit applications are lengthy requiring as long as three months 
to process. The aviculturists are not being singled out for harassment. The 
USFWS conducts necessary investigations for each request for importation of 
birds or bird products. The permit application process is as lengthy as it 
needs to be to ensure the protection of the birds. 

In my opinion the testimonies presented by the AFA, AAV and PIJAC are 
focused on eliminating any regulations within the WBCA that restrict 
convenient in^ortation of exotic birds. Yet these regulations are precisely 
what guard against inhumane treatment and over exploitation of birds in 
foreign countries. I do not interpret their testimonies as support for bird 
conservation in their native habitats. Their definition of conservation 
appears to be breeding rare species in captivity so as to preserve them there 
for eternity in an artificial environment. In my opinion the most important 
role that aviculturists can play in conservation is to breed domestically 
those species that are in demand by the pet industry, thereby reducing demand 
on wild birds. Aviculturists may also play a role working closely with 



184 



zoological societies in closely monitored breeding programs for endangered 
species . 

There is a prevalence of ambiguous information being communicated to 
aviculturists in this country (see enclosed article and advertisement) , which 
has resulted in confusion, misunderstanding, and antagonism toward the WBCA. 
The majority of aviculturists are in favor of protecting the exotic birds from 
non-regulated importation. They recognize the conservation and cruelty 
issues. However they are apparently under the mis- impression that birds 
brought into their facilities before the Act was implemented are subject to 
burdensome record keeping and mandatory marking. Additional misunderstanding 
concerns alleged plans by the WBCA to iit^ose additional restrictions on 
domestic breeding facilities; yet the WBCA concerns solely foreign facilities. 
Many aviculturists fear they will loose their birds if the WBCA is not 
weakened. Many aviculturists are currently responding to Congress based on 
these misunderstandings. 

Please do not weaken any amendments. The Act is still young and the 
wild birds need full protection. 

I, personally, take full responsibility for this testimony. It does not 
necessarily represent the views of any organizations or institutions with 
which I am affiliated. 



Sincerely, ' 
Patricia Wainright, 



185 



Curriculum Vitae 

Name: Patricia Wainright 

Address: Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences 

Rutgers University; New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903-0231 

PROFESSION AL EXPERIENCE: 

1994 present Assistant Research Professor, J. Frederick Grassle 

1992 1994 Postdoctoral Associate, J. Frederick Grassle 

Laboratory Manager . 
1990 1992 Postdoctoral Associate, Marine Biological 

Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA), M.L. Sogin 
1990 1990 Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic 

Institution, D. Prasher 
1987 1989 Postdoctoral Associate. Southeast Poultry Research 

Laboratory, USDA (Athens, GA) , M. Perdue 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: 

1983 1987 University of Georgia, Ph.D. 
1980 1982 Florida Atlantic University, M.S. 
1978 1980 Florida Atlantic University, B.A. 

FELLOWSHIPS: 

Predoctoral Fellowship: Department of Avian Medicine (4 years). 

MEMBERSHIPS: 

American Ornithologists' Union; The Society of Caribbean Ornithology; The 
Neotropical Ornithological Society; African Seabird Group; International 
Council for Bird Preservation; Association of Avian Veterinarians; Colonial 
Waterbird Society; British Ornithological Union; Association for Parrot 
Conservation; American Federation of Aviculture; American Association of Avian 
Pathologists (past member) . 

CURRENT RESEARCH: 

Molecular genetics of the Amazon parrots from the Neotropics . 

Molecular genetics of the seabirds found from the Bering Sea region. 

PUBLICATIONS (Peer-Reviewed Journals): 

Kerk, D. , A. Gee, M. Standish, P.O. Wainright, M.L. Sogin, Drum, A. Elston, R. 
The rosette agent of Chinook salmon {Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is closely 
related to choanof lagellates, as determined by the phylogenetic analysis of 
its small ribosomal subunit RNA. Marine Biology 122:187-192. 1995. 

Leipe, D., P.O. Wainright, D. Porter, D.J. Patterson, F. Valois, J.H. 
Gunderson, S. Hiramerich, and M.L. Sogin. The stramenopiles from a molecular 
perspective: 15S-like rRNA sequences from Labyrintbuloides minuta and 
Cafeteria roerubergensis. Phycologia 33:369-377. 1994. 

Wainright, P.O., D.J. Patterson, M.L. Sogin. Monophyletic origin of animals; a 
shared ancestry with the fungi. In: Molecular Evolution of Physiological 
Processes, D.M. Fambrough, editor. Society of General Physiologists 49:39-54. 
1994. 

Wainright, P.O., G. Hinkle, M.L. Sogin, and S.K. Stickel. The monophyletic 
origin of the metazoa; an evolutionary link with fungi. Science 260:340-342. 
1993. 



186 



Bhattacharya, D., L. Medlin, P.O. Wainright, E.V. Ariztia, C. Bibeau, S.K. 
Stickel, M.L. Sogin. Algae containing chlorophylls a + £ are paraphyletic: 
molecular evolutionary analysis of the chromophyta. Evolution 46:1801-1817. 
1992. 

Wainright, P. Book Reviews: 1) Molecular Systematics . 1990. Hillis, D.M. and 
C. Moritz (eds). Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA. 588 pp. European 
Journal of Protistology 28:120-121. 1992. 2) Fundamentals of Molecular 
Evolution. 1991. W-H. Li and D. Graur. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, 
MA. 284 pp. European Journal of Protistology 28:121. 1992. (Editor reviewed) 

Wainright, P.O., M.L. Perdue, M. Brugh, and C.W. Beard. Amantadine resistance 
among hemaglutinin subtype 5 strains of avian influenza virus. Avian Diseases 

35:31-39. 1991. 

Perdue, M.L., P.O. Wainright, M. Brugh. Effects of chicken embryo age on time 
to death following infection by avian influenza viruses: Implications for 
distinguishing highly pathogenic isolates. Virus Research 16:137-152. 1990. 

Perdue, M.L., P.O. Wainright, S. Palmier i, and M. Brugh. In ovo competition 
between distinct viral populations from an avian influenza isolate. Avian 
Diseases 33:695-706. 1989. 

Wainright, P.O., P. Villegas, M. Brugh, and P.D. Lukert . Characterization of 
avian infectious bronchitis virus using monoclonal antibodies. Avian Diseases 
33:482-490. 1989. 

Wainright, P.O., P.D. Lukert, R.B. Davis, and P. Villegas. Serological 
evaluation of some psittaci formes to budgerigar fledgling disease virus. 
Avian Diseases 31:673-676. 1987. 

PUBLICATIONS (Other) : 

Wainright, S. C. and P. O. Wainright. Seabird observations on the Pribilof 
Islands, Alaska during August. Bird Watcher's Digest (To be submitted. 
November, 1995) . 

Haney, J.C., M.V. Flint, A.N. Golovkin, P. Wainright, and S. Wainright. 
Ecosystem research of seabirds in the Bering Sea, Pribilof Islands, Alaska 
1993. Beringian Seabird Bulletin 2:41-43. 1994. 

Wainright, P.O. Antigenic characterization studies of infectious bronchitis 
virus using monoclonal antibodies. Dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy, pp. 1- 
136. 1987. 

Wainright, P.O., P.D. Lukert, and R.B. Davis. Update on papovavirus infection 
in fledgling psittaciformes . Watchbird 14:34-37. 1987. 

Wainright, P.O., N. Pritchard, R.B. Davis, O.J. Fletcher, and S. Clubb. 
Identification of viruses from amazon parrots with a hemorrhagic syndrome and 
a chronic respiratory disease. In Proceedings of the First International 
Conference on Zoological and Avian Medicine. Oahu, HA. pp. 15-19. 1987. 

Davis, R.B., P.D. Lukert, and P.O. Wainright. An update of budgerigar 
fledgling disease. In Proceedings of the 33rd Western Poultry Disease 
Conference, Davis, CA. pp. 96-98. 1984. 



187 



Wainright, P. Effectiveness of antiherpetic compounds on Pacheco's disease 
virus of psittacines. Thesis, Master of Science, pp. 1-76. 1983. 

Wainright, P.O. Preliminary bacteriology in psittaciformes, with procedures, 
for the identification of the bacteria present. In Proceedings of the Annual 
Meeting Association of Avian Veterinarians, Atlanta, GA. pp. 58-90. 1982. 

RKVTEWER FOR: 

Marine Biology, Biological Bulletin, Avian Pathology, Massachusetts Sea Grant 
(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), European Journal of Protistology. 

PRESENTATIONS : 

Wainright, P.O., R. Gnam, and J. Wiley. Annual Meeting of the Society of 
Caribbean Ornithology. Phylogeographical study of Amazona spp. from the 
Caribbean Islands. Martinique, West Indies. August, 1994. 

Perdue, M.L., P.O. Wainright, and M. Brugh. American Veterinary Medical 

Associaton 126th Annual Meeting. July, 1989. 

Published Abstract: 

Chicken embryo age effects on time to death measurements with avian influenza 

viruses: Potential for rapid identification of highly pathogenic strains. 

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 194 ( 12 ) : 1208 . 1989. 

Wainright, P.O., M.L. Perdue, C.W. Beard. American Veterinary Medical 

Association 125th Annual Meeting. July, 1988. 

Publlahad Ai>stracc > 

The susceptibility of virulent and avirulent isolates of H5 avian influenza 

virus to amantadine. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 

192(12) :1779. 1988. 

Wainright, P.O., N. Pritchard, R.B. Davis, O.J. Fletcher, and S. Clubb. First 

International Conference of Association of Avian Veterinarians and American 

Association of Zoo Veterinarians. September, 1987. 

Fubllsbad Abstract i 

Identification of viruses from amazon parrots with a hemorrhagic syndrome and 

a chronic respiratory disease. Veterinary Bulletin 58:104. 1988. 

Wainright, P.O., M. Brugh, and P. Villegas. American Veterinary Medical 

Association 124th Annual Meeting. July, 1987. 

Published Abscracci 

Preliminary comparisons of nine strains of infectious bronchitis virus, using 

monoclonal antibodies. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 

190(12) :1628. 1987. 

Wainright, P.O. and J.X. Hartmann. American Veterinary Medical Association 

121st Annual Meeting. July, 1984. 

Published Abstracti 

Effectiveness of anti-herpetic compounds on Pacheco's disease virus of 

psittacines. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 

185(3) :337. 1984. 

Wainright, P.O. (Invited lecturer) Association of Avian Veterinarians Annual 
Meeting. Preliminary bacteriology in psittaciformes. June 1982. 



188 



18 October 1995 

Dale R. Thompson; Editor-in-Chief 
American Federation of Aviculture 
3118 West Thomas Road; #713 
Phoenix, AZ 85017-5308 

Dear Mr. Thompson: 

I am writing to you regarding the article "Conservation and Aviculture* 
by Rick Jordan. I find this article to be extremely inappropriate. Mr. 
Jordan's statements are either based on misinformation or were purposefully 
chosen so as to mislead readers in favor of the author's biased and erroneous 
views. It is published as the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) is being ~- 
reviewed in Congress for re-authorization. Mr. Jordan's reference to the WBCA 
as "stupid" is unprofessional for the First Vice-President of AFA. 

At the same time that AFA representatives testified at a recent 
Congressional Hearing stating that the U.S. government should fund biological 
studies in the field (to conduct sustainable-use research progreims) , Mr. 
Jordan outrageously criticizes studies already conducted on parrot species. 
Mr. Jordan is misleading the readers of the AFA Watchbird by giving inaccurate 
accounts of work done by several eminent scientists. For exan^le, he referred 
to a study in the Bahamas ("...one isolated island...") as irresponsible and 
useless. However, as a result of this study, the Bahamas government 
established a National Park solely to protect this parrot subspecies from 
extinction. Dr. Rosemarie Gnam's work was directly responsible for the 
fruition of this park. 

I will not cite further examples in his article because they are too 
numerous, and ludicrous. However, I will comment on the article as a whole. 
The recurring theme is an attack on all research on parrots in the wild. Such 
research, he claims, is wasteful; the only way to save species is to breed 
them in captivity and maintain them in 'living museums'. This approach is 
narrow-minded and gloomy. Is this the philosophical approach to conservation 
that the AFA endorses? If so, it is pathetic. 

With this article, Mr. Jordan is pitting the conservation biologists and 
aviculturists against each other. While at the end of his statement he claims 
that conservation and aviculture can work together, I doubt that any 
conservation field biologist would consider working together with 
aviculturists such as Mr. Jordan after reading his inflammatory article. I 
find Mr. Jordan's manner of communication deceitful to your readers. He is 
trying to fire them up to support new amendments that would "gut" the WBCA, 
rendering it ineffective for wild bird conservation. 

How can the AFA claim a conservation role when you publish articles such 
as this? 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Patricia Wainright 
Assistant Research Professor 
Rutgers University 
AFA Member 

cc: Drs . Rosemarie Gnam, Noel Snyder, James Wiley 
Robert J. Berry and Dr. Benny Galloway 

Honorable James Saxton and Members of the House Subcommittee on 
Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans 



189 




190 



on May 1994 




lITsevere stoim during the night of May 19th broke the Lawrertoe 
Engineering boat loose and threw it up on the shore. The cowling had to 
be replaced but the boat suffered minor damage. Dayli^t found a second 
boat on the rocks at Iron Point , ■ - ■ ,. • : ^: / - 

New M H Sunfish Racing Schedule 



By Liann Kaighio 

The Marsh Harbour Sailing Qob is 
excilcdly looking forward to Saturday, 
June 2Slb, when a fun day of sunCsb 
sailing, fun races and cookont is planned. 
Tbc event will be held at Pond Bay 
Beach. The main attraction is an intended 
'Maslen* race for members of the 
MHSC who may not be active in the dob 
at the present time. This prestigions list 
includes the likes of Jack Albury, Allan 
Lowe, Stewart Stratton, Rowan Higg^, 
Aslrid Stiaiton, Donald Lowe, Lewis 
Key, Marccll Albury, Luden Stratton, 
Robbie Higgs, Will Bethel and Hmmy 
Higgs. The MHSC encourages iu 
founders and any other interested persons 
to come out and sec if yoa still have what 



it takes to win a sunfish race. 

The second sunfish festivity scheduled 
for the summer months is the Sth Annual 
R.T.I.A Sunfish Regatta. This is 
intended for Saturday, July 2nd, 1994. 
Three races In the morning and three 
after lunch will constitute the regatta. A 
light Inncfa will lie provided daring the 
break. There is a $10.00 registration fee 
for entry in this event. Skippers' meeting 
is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. at Pond Bay 
Beach with race times to be announced at 
that meeting. 

If yon have any qoestions about this 
regatta or are interested in bringing the 
family out to our fnn day, please contact 
Commodore Jim Kaighin at 367-3086, M- 
F, 9-5. 



the natural forest habitat by various eco- 
nomic and development activities and the 
destruction of nestling by wild cats, ' said 
the Prime Minister. 

"The park is a significant addition to 
the national park system in The Baha- 
mas. It will serve as another protected 
area for the rest and recreation of future 
generations of Bahamians and visitors to 
our shores." 

"Let me also say with much thanks 
and gratitude that... the children of the 
Hope Town All Age School and children 
from all over The Bahainas have been 
very consistent and persistent in their 
efforts to ensure that today came about. 

"We, as a country with twelve national 
parks, are distinguishable from any and 
all othcis in our region. Indeed, on the 
issue of environment, we can be justifi- 
ably proud of what we have done and we 
can also be justifiably proud of what the 
National Trust has done and is doing. 

"It has been and oontinnes tolw a very 
rcsponsi1>le organization, taking full 
account of economic demands and need 
of oar country and balandng that in 
terms of our environmental consider- 
ation. 

"...We look forward to not only the 
preservation of the Bahama Panot in 
Abaco but we look forward to the in- 
crease of its population much the same as 
the fish in the National Park in Inagna 
has increased substantially as a result of 
decisions taken maiiy yean ago." 

The Prime Minister also said that 
environmental activists, reportedly repre- 
senting some 5,000 persons, sent him a 
letter that said they will settle for nothing 
less than a total ban oo long-line fishing. 

He continned, 'The government of 
The Bahamas has banned long line fish- 
ing. The government has great respc<4 
for otganirations like the Trust and envi- 
ronmentalists.* 



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JTJe^WAIffJ ffiKfcEFWm iJBHPS. YOU NEED THIS INFORMATION TO HELP 
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BREEOERS^BULLETtN 2/^ 



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BIRDLAWS \^l)^Ol! 



IX. l'W5 10 
of Libeling 



The Fisli and Wildlife Senicc (I \VS) mci \miIi Conj;ress September 
present llicir report compiled from public input on n \oluntar\ program 
of csotic birds and cenincaiion of breeding facilities and retail oullels 

Mark Phillips. General Biologist «ilh the FWS. mentioned that the a\iciillure and 
conscr\alion sides «crc about exjiialb represented AMcultiirisls. Phillips said, 
were asking that the offspring of illegal!) imported birds be considered legal, 
thereby eliminating the liabilitx of purchasers of those offspnng He said avicullur- 
isls also asked for (he free importation of captive bred birds 

Phillips said the consenaliomsls were concerned that if captive bred birds «cre 
deleted from consideration, lliat illegal \tild-caughl birds could sinipU be labeled 
as capli\c bred and imponed legalK FWS is sending us a packet oiillining at- 
tendees and their positions, but for now «e 
only have phone statements from Phillips 
and Harry Burroughs, Director of the Sub- 
committee on Fisheries. Wildlife & Oceans 
Burroughs said. "I recei\cd a «hole lot of 
letters requesting deletion of domestic cap- 
live bied birds from the WBCA I can't sec 
that happening, since the Act has no efTcct 
on domestic bred birds an>"»ay..." 
...Hliat?? (U'ha( about cerli/icaliim^) 

This is being reviewed by Congress now It is 
ver> important that our voices be heard Our 
"AMan Regulatory Watchdog." Ed Hamilton 
suggests writing your Congressman today! 
Indicate that \ou are a constituent in his/her 
district and include that the IIBCA iios 
Hnttcn to protect wild bird'i. not to regulate 
captive breeding Be sure to request deletion 
of all regulations concerning captive breed- 
ing. 

Your letters HILL HELP and tlie quantity 
must outnumber that from animal nghts 
groupsi So tell your fellow breeders and write 
your Congressman today ! ! ! 

Lynn W Reed, Editor 



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can indicate such findings as kid- 
ney disease, presence of excessive 
glucose or sugar in the urine (may 
be suggestive of diabetes), kid- 
ney function, and possibility of 
heavy metal poisoning. 

• Polyomavirus - This deadly vinos 
disease may be identified with 
use of the DNA piiobe test, from the 
droppings of affeaed and shedding 
birds. 

• Liver disease - Decreased func- 
tion, inflammation of, or infection 
or insult to the liver may be sug- 
gested by a change of the drop- 
pings (usually the urate portion, 
which normally is white in col- 
oration, is affected) Further diag- 
nostic tests such as serum 
chemistries or specific tests for 
psittacosis may be warranted. 

• Psittacosis (Parrot Fever) - sever- 
al diagnostic tests are available 
that detect the presence of or reaa 
to the presence of the causative 
organism of psittacosis. Chlamydia 
psittaci. 

Amy B. Worell, DVM Dipl. ABVP. 
West Hills, CA. T^^ 



Conservation 
and Aviculture 



by Rick Jordan 
Kutzlown, Pennsylvania 



I Jv^hat is conservation? Webster 
yr defines the word as "the act of 
keeping from depletion." How docs 
this relate to breeding birds in captiv- 
ity? If you ask this question of an 
aviculturist they will say they arc 
breeding birds so they will exist when 
the habitat has been totally destroyed 
and no more specimens exist in the 
wild. That certainly qualifies as "the 
act of keeping from depletion." If you 
ask a conservationist how aviculture 
is related to conservation they will 
usually tell you there is little correla- 
tion between the two. So who is the 
most correct? Are we, as aviculturists, 
wasting our time or arc we actually 



doing some good for the future of 
certain bird species? 

A controversy has arisen between 
aviculture and "in the wild" conser- 
vation. Suddenly there seems to be 
competition between the captive 
breeders and the field biologists who 
both seek the same goal, to save birds 
in the wild. This competition is not 
helping the birds but, instead, ham- 
pering captive breeding efforts for 
many rare and endangered birds. 
Birds that arc in need of assistance if 
they are to survive in their natural 
habitat for years to come. 

The relationship between captive 
breeding and conservation in the wild 



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3 9999 05984 137 7 



is very difficult to define. Perhaps 
there is no relationship between the 
nvo. Perhaps we must all adjust our 
thoughts to accept the fact that, in 
these changing times, there are two 
distinctly different sectors of conser- 
vation, captive breeding and 
conservation in the wild. Unfortu- 
nately, most of the regulations that 
have been promulgated by our gov- 
ernment are geared towards the 
benefit of the species in the wild. This 
eliminates the participation efforts of 
captive breeding in any given conser- 
vation program that is funded by the 
government. It also gives the field 
biologist the upper hand when seek- 
ing justification for a new "program" 
to be funded by the government. 

The above scenario is a sad one 
indeed. It does not consider the one 
fact that has led to the demise of most 
species in the first place, habitat 
destruction. Although collection for 
the pet trade and breeder trade is 
blamed for the disappearance of many 
species in the wild, man's interference 
in the habitat is really the cause of it 
all. So we are funding more interfer- 
ence, ignoring captive conservation, 
and continuing to cut the habitat on 
a daily basis. In the mean time, "save 
the world biologists" are out there 
hanging unnatural nests, counting 
birds, shooting birds, and writing 
their doctoral dissertations on the 
possible extinction of yet another 
species of bird. Then there are a few 
who are participating in release pro- 
grams that boggle the mind with 
justified, governmentally funded, stu- 
pidity. 

On one isolated island we have a 
biologist who needs to get a doctorate 
degree. What does she do to get it 
except sit in the wild and observe a 
very rare species of Amazon parrot 
attempt to nest in a new habitat filled 
with feral cats. Did she ever stop and 
consider that perhaps the decline of 
this bird was due to exacdy that which 
they are observing. Common house 
cats that have gone wild are destroying 
the nests, and in some cases, even the 
laying hen in the nest. Did this field 
biologist do anything to help the birds 
or did she only study the nests, write 
a dissertation and collect her new 
degree and move on to a new job? As 
an aviculturist, the first thing that I 
would have done is have the cats 



destroyedl The only way for this 
species to recover is to restore the 
habitat to what it was and make it safe 
for the birds to nest successfully. 

Interestingly enough, this biologist 
is very anti-captive breeding. She feels 
that the demise of most of these rare 
birds was due to collection for the 
trade. However, in all my world travels 
and all the aviaries, public and private, 
that I have visited, there are NO 
representatives of this species in cap- 
tivity. Whoops there goes another one 
of those... 

Right about the same time, there 
was another governmentally funded 
biologist trying to re-establish a parrot 
species in an area where it has not been 
seen since the 1930's. This habitat is 
hostile and full of predators. Could 
this have been the reason that the birds 
disappeared from here in the first 
place? I guess not. The biologist con- 
tinued to release birds into this area 
only to find them killed or missing 
completely. Surely there must have 
been another reason these birds have 
moved out of this area. 

This same species has another 
range. A range where it is quite 
cominon and not in a highly threat- 
ened position, unless of course 
someone decides they need the lum- 
ber. Why not release birds into this 
area where they already exist in 
adequate numbers and the newly 
released can learn from the birds that 
are already there. Of course this would 
not be such an exciting project and 
may not receive as much press and 
prestige as starting an entirely new 
group in an uninhabited area. Instead, 
the final published result of the pro- 
ject is summarized as "reintroduction 
of birds is not feasible, captive bred 
birds are not suitable for release." 
Strike another blow against avicul- 
ture. 

If you really want to see conserva- 
tion at work, take a good look at the 
government projca on one of the 
northern Caribbean Islands. In the 
early 1980's there were an estimated 
50 representatives in the wild. Every- 
one jumped through the hoop to help 
save the bird. Of course none were 
taken off the island and placed with 
captive breeders who could have 
done some good with them. Instead, 
captured pairs were set up on the 
island (some pairs were two females). 



and the results of this captive-breed- 
ing farce were used to deny captive 
breeding as a viable option. The 
species continued to decline in the 
wild. As far as anyone knows, this bird 
is still in decline. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of dollars have been spent by 
the tax payers to save this bird and yet 
the results of this project are difficult 
if not impossible to acquire. My guess 
is that the project has done litde to 
save this bird. If it were a successful 
project wouldn't the biologists in 
charge want the world to know what 
they have done? 

I would like to congratulate one 
conservation effort by Mr Paul Butler 
and his associates. It appears that the 
educational campaign that he has 
been involved with in the lower 
Caribbean Islands has resulted in an 
increase in the number of birds that 
are in the wild. Keep up the good work 
Mr. Buder, could you possibly share 
some of your knowledge and insight 
with the biologists in these other 
programs? 

Another conservation effort that 
warrants mention is the Mauritius 
Parakeet projea that is funded, in 
part, by the World Parrot Trust, a 
group of captive breeders and others 
I might like to add. This project shows 
great potential and is beginning to 
demonstrate a conneaion between 
captive breeding and wild habitat 
management. 

Why am I so cynical, you might ask. 
Am I the only one that sees that the 
governmentally funded projects 
around the world are not working? 
How many Kakapo have been bred 
since the government stepped into 
that project? How many Puerto Rican 
Amazons? The list can go on but it 
would only be depressing. Remem- 
ber, "You can't fight City Hall." 

Let's take a look at an interesting 
conservation effort for the Spix's 
Macaw. Oh the scandal it is. There is 
only one left in the wild. In this case, 
collecting for the trade did in fact 
deplete the wild, but there were only 
a few left in the wild anyway. If wc 
had waited for the many "do right" 
governments to step in there would 
have been none. So, pairs of this bird 
were taken from the wild and ended 
up in private collections around the 
world. There was a "kind of hush, all 
over the world' as to who had them. 



195 



Only a few would announce the 
existence of these birds in their col- 
lections. My hat goes off to you...that 
took a lot of guts. 

So, there are maybe five or six pairs 
in captivity around the world, about 
nineteen in the zoo in the country of 
origin, and a few in pet homes, as 
single birds, in the country of origin. 
I Should mention that there are sev- 
eral hundred dead ones in the 
museums around the world that have 
been shot by ornithologists but, I am 
sure they would not have bred any- 
way, right? In any case, none have 
been bred in the country of origin, 
none have been bred by the pet 
owners, but many have been bred by 
the "collector" who managed to get 
them. Yes, you heard me right, many 
have been bred in captivity. Docs this 
justify conservation? I say, "hell yes." 
The world's population of this species 
has been almost doubled by the few 
pairs that are in the hands of the 
breeders. One point for aviculture! 

How about the Blue-throated ma- 
caw from Bolivia? A few years ago 
they were extremely expensive to 
purchase because they were so rare in 
captivity. Now, thanks to captive 
breeding they arc available and are 
not much more expensive than the 
common Blue and Gold Macaw. An- 
other point for aviculture! 

Blue-throated Conurcs, Crimson- 
bellied Conurcs, Hoffman's Conure, 
Queen of Bavaria Conure, Cuban 
Amazon, Vinaccous Amazon, Hya- 
cinth Macaws, Ducorp's Cockatoos, 
White-cared Conurcs, all arc now 
available as captive bred birds from 
many breeders across the world. 
There are upward of 200 spedcs 
available from breeders somewhere. 
Captive breeding is working. It is 
"keeping free from depiction" those 
birds that are in need of help. It even 
helps to conserve wild flocks. If 
breeders can buy captive bred birds 
from other breeders they will not 
need to look to the wild for any more 
birds. So, I guess conservation in the 
wild and captive breeding do have 
something in common- Why then is 
it so difficult to get the two groups to 
work together? Why docs our own 
govenunent pass stupid laws like the 
"Wild Bird Conservation Aa of 
1992" and make it so difficult to 
import captive bred birds from other 



breeders? 

It appears that many laws are being 
passed that are contrary to conserva- 
tion. Some of this can be blamed on 
ignorance, but some of it is, beyond 
any doubt, due to some type of hidden 
agenda. Someone doesn't want birds 
bred in cages. These same people 
believe that cyfinction is part of the 
natural order and should not be 
interfered with. I am sure glad these 
same people arc not in charge of 
finding a cure for the many illnesses 
that plague mankind. We would all 
be doomed to die an early death. 

Conservation and aviculture can 



work together. If we must view the 
world as two separate "groups," those 
born in captivity, and those born in 
the wild, then so be it. But, at the same 
time we cannot allow someone to stop 
captive breeding or there will only be 
one group that remains, the most 
vulnerable group of all. Why can't 
conservation be content to know that 
the bird does in fact, live, breath, and 
breed in a cage somewhere in the 
world? In the end there will be no 
habitat to release any wild animals 
into. It will be as absurd as a release 
program for Tigers in downtown Los 
Angeles. >^ 



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