This article was previously published in Bird Breeder magazine and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
Non-Native Species Legislative Proposals
by Laurella Desborough
Bird breeders should be monitoring the legislative proposals in their states. Breeders who participate in an organization that actively monitors proposed legislation will have some warning about impending restrictions. Breeders who are not affiliated with such an organization need to take action to protect their interests by monitoring the activities of the state legislators during the period when the legislature is in session.
Legitimate concerns for the introduction of non-native species into lakes, streams and the countryside have given rise to proposals for restricting or prohibiting non-native species. Although many bird breeders may not know it, the English sparrow and the starling were imported from England and now have established large populations throughout the United States, often displacing such native species as the eastern bluebird and the purple martin. The aggressive starlings have pushed out the native species by usurping their nest sites.
Legislators are preparing overinclusive prohibited lists of animals under this type of legislation that may include fish, reptiles, birds and animals. Some states propose so-called clean lists, which allow the listed animals but disallow any nonlisted animals. Some of these laws are proposed in cities and counties, as well as at the state level. Marshall Meyers, general counsel for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, stated, "...virtually every animal other than a dog or cat technically falls in the 'non-native' category." If you discover proposed legislation in your area, work with others to educate the legislators about the lack of threat posed by exotic birds.