This article was previously published in Bird Breeder magazine and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
Proposed Legislation in Wisconsin, Dec. 1997
by Laurella Desborough
A Wisconsin Assembly bill, AB514, proposes the promulgation of rules for the listing of domestic animals and birds and listing of certain "non-native wild birds." It includes proposed regulations on "captive wild animal farms" and the listing of humane treatment standards for these animals (birds) and requirements for importing wild animals into Wisconsin. Wild animals always includes wild birds unless they are specifically excluded. In this case, wild birds mean imported birds such as those owned by many bird breeders.
Importation requirements mandate that the importing party have proper documents indicating that the birds are possessed legally and that their health status has been documented. As reported by staff, the intent of the bill in terms of birds is to control psittacosis. Psittacosis is not considered to be a major threat to human health. The U.S. Center for Disease Control in Atlanta indicates that psittacosis is most commonly found in farm and factory workers who slaughter and process poultry for marketing, not in pet bird owners or bird breeders.
AB514 also provides the state officials with seizure powers if the requirements regarding humane treatment and importation are not met. Importation includes any birds brought into the state, such as for bird shows or fairs. Whenever regulations on animal farms or humane treatment are put in place, requirements for on-site inspections can be mandated. This bill appears to be poorly drafted with overly broad definitions and without regard to the consequences to aviculture. Copies of the bill can be obtained from the Wisconsin state document room at (608) 266-2400.