USDA is seeking public comments about their Rule Promulgation to Amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to include birds not bred for use in Research. 

Below are examples of appropriate comments from aviculture experts to oppose USDA's Proposed Rule.

Please use the comments below as a guide and manage these suggested comments  to make them your own and respond directly at the USDA portal by May 25, 2022 (link below)


Background and General Information:

While the USDA/APHIS does have experience with birds and other animals raised for food and other other products, USDA/APHIS has no experience with avian species (birds) in an avicultural setting, where aviculture is the breeding, raising, and keeping of birds..

This addition to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) will create a huge amount of conflict and divisiveness between animal owners and APHIS staff. 

The incredibly diverse spectrum of 10,000 species of birds puts APHIS at a disadvantage, making uniform standards that would apply to all impossible. Each species has different breeding, nesting, feeding requirements, where specific needs for various species must be addressed and individuals within species may have specific requirements depending on age, gender, reproductive status and health, and general standards may not be possible to apply to all.

Knowing these facts, one must question this Rule Promulgation as it will put all domestically owned birds at great risk.  

  • To all of our members in aviculture, we ask that you be sure to prepare your comment to oppose this proposed Rule. 
  • All comments MUST BE RECEIVED BY WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2022.
  • The Comment Portal is open for comment submission and this proposed Rule may be viewed on the Federal Register HERE.



With regard to the term "stakeholder:"

A.1. Definition of stakeholder: someone with a STAKE in the matter.

  • Primary stakeholders: those ultimately most affected, either positively or negatively by an organization's actions
  • Secondary stakeholders: the "intermediaries," that is, persons or organizations who are indirectly affected by an organization's actions
  • Tertiary stakeholders: those who will be impacted the least

A.2. Who are the primary stakeholders here?

     a. Aviculturists who are keeping and breeding birds.

     b. Zoos who are keeping and breeding birds.

A.3.  Who are the secondary stakeholders here? 

      a. Owners of pet birds.

        b. Avian veterinarians.

       c. Companies that produce food and equipment related to birds.

        d. Transporters of birds, supplies, food, equipment, etc.

A.4. Who are the tertiary stakeholders here?

       a.  Members of the general public

       b. Members of Animal rights organizations are individuals who do not own birds, do not support aviculture, have no knowledge of the practices of aviculturists, but want to TELL bird breeders how to care for their birds. These individuals should have NO INPUT INTO ANY FEDERAL REGULATIONS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT ACTUAL STAKEHOLDERS. THEIR GOAL IS TO DESTROY AVICULTURE IN THE U.S., BASICALLY TO REMOVE BIRDS FROM HUMAN CONTACT.



Comment Examples for you to use as a guide in submitting our opposition comments in the USDA Comment Portal by May 25th, 2022

USDA COMMENT PORTAL ACCESS HERE

  • When the USDA was pressured by animal rights extremist organizations to include birds under the definition of "animal" in the Animal Welfare Act, USDA informed various bird-keeping organizations of the need for input on drafting the regulations. To facilitate a coordinated effort, representatives from various avicultural organizations gathered at a meeting in Houston in May, 2003 to establish a group to respond to the USDA's request. As a result, the National Avian Welfare Alliance (NAWA) was formed as a roundtable of representatives from a broad cross-section of bird keeping organizations including, bird trainers and avian veterinarians, as well as organizations for keepers of racing pigeons, waterfowl and pheasants, finches, softbills, and parrots. This broad representation from within the avicultural community is necessary due to the large variety of birds kept in captivity and the wide range of husbandry techniques involved. The combined experience of NAWA participants represents over 600 years in the avicultural world working with over 1000 different species.
  • Aviculturists with decades of experience breeding, raising, handling, housing and feeding various avian species, some zoological institutions, and some private bird owners who breed birds are THE primary stakeholders and it is ONLY their hands-on, in person experience that the USDA/APHIS should seek out and utilize if regulations are necessary. These people hands-on experts have provided needed information and experience to avian veterinarians, to zoos, to bird owners in all areas of the United States for years.       
  • Over 9000 avian species inhabit all of the earth's unique ecosystems from the frigid polar regions to the hottest equatorial regions.
  • Birds are an extremely diverse group with equally diverse requirements for survival. They are the ONLY group of animals that are successful on land, sea and in the air, sometimes all three in one species.  Novel husbandry techniques are often needed to maintain them successfully in captivity. Continuing advancements in knowledge and technology by experienced aviculturists will ensure development of unique husbandry solutions to enhance avian captive management. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for avian species.
  • Aviculture is an ever-evolving field. Unique solutions, appropriate to special species requirements and local conditions may be required to enhance bird keeping. It is vital that any regulation of birds under the Animal Welfare Act be flexible and open to the broad array of husbandry choices and innovations that are continually being developed by experienced aviculturists and bird keepers by experienced aviculturists and bird keepers. Performance standards for enclosures, for example, should be based upon the species, the individual or individuals of that species for flocked birds as well as the age, breeding status, health, and special needs for individual birds.
  • Birds are kept in captivity for many reasons. Many are kept as pets, some are kept to produce game, some are kept for food production, some are kept for sport. Birds are unique in that a large segment of private citizens keep birds to preserve species as a safeguard against extinction or elimination in their home range. Many wild populations of birds are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, environmental degradation, persecution as pests, and political instability. 
  • Private sector American aviculturists promote an increase in public awareness of conservations needs and successes, habitat destruction, wildlife management through exhibition, education, and pet ownership. Revenue from the sale of birds as pets or breeders provides the necessary funding to run private enterprise preservation efforts. Public and zoological institutions admittedly do not have the space or resources to maintain genetically diverse populations of all avian species which may need avicultural support as insurance against an uncertain future, and may depend upon private breeders of specific avian species to preserve their populations in captivity. Only through the dedication of the private sector in aviculture will there be adequate space and incentive to maintain adequate populations of many species of birds to ensure and preserve avian biodiversity for future generations. 
  • The de minimus (lowest level for regulation) is much too low.  In recent years the sales prices of birds have increased dramatically.  This is at least partially due to many people retiring or otherwise exiting aviculture.  At the same time demand for birds is high.  Reducing the domestic supply can lead to increased smuggling, with all the attendant issues.  Suggested de minimus may be $10,000 or $20,000. We recommend $30,00 or greater OR a de minimus of in numbers of birds sold, varying by size (smaller species may produce more young than larger species). We really want as large a range as possible. A single cockatoo can sell for $1500-2500 or more. Smaller species (conures, cockatiels) are selling in the $200 range, currently. 
  • The costs displayed in Table A are in many cases, greatly underestimated, especially in case of veterinary expenses. The requirements for the attending veterinarian are onerous, both in time and financial resources, and place extensive requirements on the attending vets, as well as expense for the aviculturist. Utilization of telemedicine will greatly aid in cutting costs, but still be a significant expense and time investment.  Veterinarians with the training and practical experience to adequately fill these roles will not be available in many parts of the country. It may likely be necessary to rely on experienced aviculturists for assistance with some species.
  • Compliance with identification requirements represent a considerable expense and may be difficult to impossible in large community flights or for small/delicate species where microchips/bands are not possible to use.
  • The record keeping requirements are extensive, and in some cases onerous. There is a current need for appropriate software for aviculture.  In accordance with the paperwork reduction act, many of these recording keeping requirements result in un-necessary documentation which will not enhance welfare.  For example: documenting every time a bird is removed from a flock, or every time routine cleaning is postposed because birds are nesting, or changes in diet are used to enhance overall health. These are areas where the knowledge can only be gained by hands-on experience.
  • Many aviaries, especially suspended aviaries, do not have double doors.  Alternatives should be acceptable.  There are many ways to preclude escape without building a double door system.  Some breeders have an additional wire door inside the primary door.  Other have devices which can be placed over the door allowing just enough room to introduce a net and arm.
  • It is commendable that APHIS accepts hand-rearing and handling of young birds and shipping of unweaned birds of certain species, and we support that these activities will not be limited. It is also reasonable that the attending vet include shipment of unweaned birds in the program of veterinary care.  
  • Pinioning is an important tool in zoological management of species such as flamingoes and waterfowl.  This allows more spacious and varied housing, as opposed to large covered ponds which are extremely costly to construct and cannot provide the largest possible space.  If performed in the first week of life the nervous system is not mature and discomfort is minimal. It is not a procedure used for other species or for birds in aviaries or in pet/companion homes.
  • Shipping of birds is becoming ever more challenging.  Extensive requirements being placed on carriers may exacerbate this issue and impede business and may impact the overall well-being of some avian species. Aviculturists trade breeding birds with other aviculturists in order to increase genetic diversity among a flock, and lack of shipping options may lead to a lack of genetic diversity and ultimately extinction of some species. 
  • This regulatory process has been looked at for several years, and has been set aside for many of the reasons stated above, primarily the extreme difficulty of regulating 10,000 species of birds, many with specific requirements. Any potential regulations should be carefully crafted with the assistance and input of true stakeholders – aviculturists, avian veterinarians and others with hands-on experience in the field of aviculture.  The aviculturist should be consulted as a partner in these regulations AND in inspection procedures as they know their birds and what will be the best for their welfare and the regulations must be as general as possible given the many diverse species that they will cover.

 

The Cavalry Group • P.O. Box 8 • Guthrie • OK • 73044  •  Ph: 855-748-4210

 
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