Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

i-66cab6c7dda063add71d9aae37024913-grey fluff.bmpPreviously on this blog, I’ve criticized the European Union for continuing to allow the import of wild-caught parrots (including African Greys) which has devastated many species of rare birds. I was never sure why the EU, which his usually a trailblazer in the areas of progressive conservation, was so slow to act to restrict the wild-caught bird industry. The only time that the EU has restricted wild-bird imports has been when “bird flu” was suspected in Europe, with imported birds thought to have been to blame.

I’m happy to say that a permanent ban on wild-caught birds has been instituted, starting in July, in the EU.

Its about time.

The move will replace a temporary ban imposed by Brussels in 2005 as part of measures to prevent outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Animal welfare campaigners say the permanent ban will save millions of birds, including many rare species.

Only captive-bred birds from approved countries will be allowed into the EU.

Tighter controls on the health and quarantine of imported birds are also to be imposed.

Campaigners have blamed Europe’s trade in wild birds as a significant factor in the decline of many threatened species such as the African grey parrot.

Before the temporary ban was imposed, about 1.7 million wild birds were imported annually into the EU.

About 60% of the birds caught for import died before they reached Europe from poor handling or disease, Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said.

Even if it is in response to worries about bird flu, rather than purely conservational motivations, its good that this ban will stay. Captive-bred birds not only make much better companions, but do not result in the high death rate and decreased populations that the wild-caught bird industry does. Good for the EU.

(HT: Mustafa Mond, FCD)


  1. #1 BenP
    January 15, 2007

    I don’t know anythings about those laws, and I don’t want to import bird so it’s ok. But I’m asking my-self what’s the law for the U.S. ?

  2. #2 ericnh
    January 15, 2007

    Shelley might know more about this, but I did a quick search and found the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992, which limits or prohibits importation of birds into the US. It was expanded in 1993 to cover all birds protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which covers just about all parrots. Birds on this list can only be imported from countries with approved conservation programs so commercial trade doesn’t threaten their survival in the wild. Of course, illegal smuggling is still a problem, but at least these laws have helped regulate the commercial importation.

  3. #3 Shelley
    January 15, 2007

    Yep, ericnh said it as well as i could have. Indeed legal smuggling is a problem, but the law has helped immensely in stimulating the captive-bred bird industry and reducing prices on exotic birds (still relatively high, Greys run about $1000). Which makes it less worth a smuggler’s while, given the risks and loss of birds involved.

  4. #4 BenP
    January 15, 2007


  5. #5 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    January 16, 2007

    Rare native parrot seen on Maungatautari

    A red-crowned kakariki has been spotted in bush on Maungatautari, south of Cambridge, sparking a flurry of interest from conservationists in the area.

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