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Legislative Report
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE
LEGISLATIVE REPORT: AUG. 2001
Current status of federal laws: AWA, ESA, ISA, WBCA        
By Laurella Desborough

Animal Welfare Act, AWA: Last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA,
was sued by animal rights organizations to force the USDA to implement
regulations on bird, rats and mice under the AWA. The USDA settled and agreed
to formulate those regulations. Representatives of the biomedical research
industry pressured Congress not to budget for these changes, in order to stop
the process. Congress did not fund the USDA so that regulations could be
created. Last week I spoke with my contact at USDA and was informed that the
situation remains the same for the budget this year. Unless Congress is
persuaded to fund the creation of the regulations on birds for 2001, it will
not happen.

AWA CONCERNS: If or when the regulations on birds are written, the USDA would
write the definition and then begin on the proposed regulations, starting
with research institutions. Take note that BIRD BREEDERS would be included in
these regulations under the definition of 'dealer': "...breeding for the
wholesale pet trade"; "...any person in commerce who buys, sells, negotiates
sales, or transports"; "...for use as a pet". This is the language in the AWA
that provides the authority for the regulation of bird breeders, pet stores,
dealers, and would certainly affect most aviculturists. We will be watching
this closely. If and when the regulations are published on birds, it will be
absolutely critical that each one of us respond intelligently.

Endangered Species Act, ESA: The US Fish and Wildlife, USFWS,  is required to
review all listed species on the ESA every five years. Right now Scarlet
chested and other neophemas are still under regulation and may not be freely
transported across state lines for purposes of commerce without USFWS
permits; birds to remain in possession of the owner do not require permits to
cross state lines. The USFWS is now considering species which might be placed
on the endangered list or removed from that list. Comments are being received
from the public. SPECIALTY SOCIETIES might take note of this process and
contact USFWS to see if some species within their specialty should be
addressed.

ESA CONCERNS: For years it has been suggested that certain neophemas be
removed from the regulated list requiring state permits. Continued efforts
should be made to see that this occurs.

Invasive Species Act, ISA: Regulations are still being formulated under this
act with a lot of discussion going on regarding property rights versus endangered
species needs. With the present Administration in office, the effects of this act
and the regulations proposed may be colored by the political activities of
powerful people in Washington and in the various states. We are watching.

Wild Bird Conservation Act, WBCA: The WBCA became law in 1992 and effectively
ended the importation of most species of psittacine birds, (with the
exception of some species declared as produced so widely in captivity as to
be considered domesticated: some lovebirds, budgerigars and cockatiels). The
WBCA gave the USFWS the authority to establish certain regulations and
require certain permits, specifically: 1. Regulations on identification of
individual birds: banding or microchipping, 2. Regulations on registering
birds to provide information on their background, 3. Regulations on the
inspection and certification of aviaries. Due to the successful hearing held
in 1995 where over 100 representatives of aviculture spoke on those three
issues, the USFWS did not at that time choose to establish regulations on
banding, bird registries, or aviary inspections. Presently the USFWS has
requested comments on species for the approved list in order to determine
what species to add or remove.

WBCA CONCERNS: It is not known when the issues regarding banding, bird
registeries and aviary inspections will be addressed. We are informed that
the USFWS does plan to streamline the regulations and the process for
obtaining cooperative breeding program permits. We are also informed that the
regulations regarding overseas breeding facilities will not be addressed
until the new director of the USFWS is on board, which is expected to be
sometime in September.

All of these laws, AWA, ESA, ISA and WBCA are national laws, and must be
addressed at that level, which will be the responsibility of the AFA BOD when
issues come up relating to those laws. The AFA will be putting out
information through the Regional Directors to the State Coordinators and thus
to the Club Delegates indicating what the issues are, what action should be
taken, by whom, and on what timeline. Therefore, it is always important to
maintain clear lines of communication. It is very important that CLUB
DELEGATES INFORM CLUB MEMBERS at each club meeting about any pending
legislative issues so that our actions will be successful.

Federal laws already in place are being used by the ANIMAL RIGHTS
ORGANIZATIONS to put in place regulations or effect changes in regulations
regarding every conceivable animal issue. Keep in mind...animal also means
BIRD. New laws are being proposed on a routine basis to deal with various pet
issues, farming issues, research issues, transportation of birds and animals
by air.

Keep in mind, the ANIMAL RIGHTS folks have said: "WE CONTROL THE FEDERAL
CONGRESS AND THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY NOW. IN A FEW YEARS WE WILL
CONTROL THE STATE LEGISLATURES TOO." "IF WE CAN CONTROL 11% OF THE
VOTERS, WE CAN WIN CONTROL." And what do they want to do with that
control...they want to restrict possession and eliminate breeding of birds and
animals, or any animal use at all! But, if we work together and stand firm and
communicate with our Congressmen, they won't win. Each one of us has more
power with our Congressman than the animal rights folks do. We are
constituents. We are voters. Congressmen respond to their constituents
because they have the power to put them into office or remove them from
office. They listen to reasonable arguments. Please be sure to communicate
with them.

STATE LAWS: AFA State Coordinators are going to be gathering information on
state laws and making that information available to members of the AFA on a
website. Check the AFA website for further information on legislation:
http://www.afa.birds.org/afa/  .

LOCAL, CITY, COUNTY LAWS: Efforts to establish restrictive or prohibitive
laws on pets and breeding animals are on-going across the U.S. and are being
instigated by animal rights folks. You need tools:

1) The Birdkeeper's Legislative Handbook., available through the AFA Business Office:
602-484-0931.

2) Animal Rights, The Inhumane Crusade by Daniel T. Oliver, available through
Capital Research Center: 800-459-3950 or email: crc@capitalresearch.org and it is
only $5. per copy.

Get extras for your state and federal lawmakers. Keep in mind that the AFA has NO
power in local situations. The local individuals have the power. However, the AFA
legislative team members can offer information and guidance that comes from past
experiences with local matters and this information will be most helpful to you
in fighting local ordinance problems. Please use the knowledge gained from
experience! Email: LauraDesborough@aol.com  re legislation.

Visit the American Federation of Aviculture website at:
http://www.afa.birds.org/afa/ for further information about monitoring legislation
and other activities of the AFA.
(Rev. 9-6-01/LD)