Avian Legalities

Birds And The Law


   Governmental rules, laws, and regulations follow a tiered system. Once a ruling is made at a certain tier no lower tier can supersede it. Each tier further restricts aviculture.

    Many different agencies are involved that concern aviculture, and some rulings that are made actually contradict each other. Many times government officials do not even understand all the nuances of the rulings that they are supposed to be enforcing.

    USA aviculturists are excepted to be knowledgeable about all the laws though – ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law!  Keep yourself educated and be always vigilant about upcoming bills and other governmental regulations that are being proposed with an Animal Rights agenda so that you can defend your right to participate in aviculture. 
    Carefully analyze any bill or other regulatory item on which you are voting.  If it infringes upon the rights of any animal-involved group such as dog or reptile keepers, do not be fooled into thinking it will not effect you, a bird person, in the future.  HSUS, PETA, and other Animal Rights organizations are very good at manipulating the public into believing their goal is protecting the welfare of animals while their real goal is the elimination of animal ownership in its entirety.  Do not assume that the enforcers of the regulations and laws will use logical and reasonable judgement.  Our rights to care for animals are being widdled away at an alarming rate.
Check out this webmix:  Aviculture & the Law

Tier One: Federal Rulings

Agencies involved include the US Fish & Wildlife Dept. & Dept of Health.

A. CITES – (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)  Meets annually.  A meeting of countries in which any country for any reason can place a species on CITES Appendixes I-III.  This regulates the exportation of the listed species.  Countries may list their endangered species, but some list species because of the lack of research on the species or because they simply want to.  USA is a member.

B. WBCA – (Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992) States that birds, except for some gamebird & ratite families, on any appendix of CITES are restricted from importation into the USA without special, and very-difficult-to-get permits.  This is the legislation that basically shut down the parrot imports.  Most of the general public does not realize that other birds, including several softbill species, are totally legal to import still.

C. ESA – (Endangered Species Act)  Reviewed annually.  Basically protects native fauna & flora in deemed to be in danger of extinction. 

D. Migratory Bird Treaty – Basically no native bird or native bird part (feathers, eggs, etc.) can be in a citizen’s possession.

E. AWA - (Animal Welfare Act) The regulations are currently being written and could be very adverse to aviculture. Will affect anyone who breeds birds in any numbers. Could include federal inspections & specific housing requirements.

F. Importation/Exportation Regulations – Each country decides on what native species and how many individuals they will import and export. The USA does not export any native species, nor does Mexico or Australia, as well as many others.

*SPECIAL NOTE:  Due to the Asian Bird Flu scare in the recent years, almost all importing has stopped.  Asian birds haven't been imported since around 2004.  In 2005-2006, most European airlines stopped carrying birds due to liability issues so this has caused European and African (which are shipped through European ports) imports to become extremely rare in the USA.  By 2008, South American shipments are still able to make it into the country but no telling how long this will continue.  In 2009 & 2010, some African shipments came into the USA which was a delight to aviculturists!  Import restrictions make it all the more important to treasure each individual softbill we have and get them breeding!
Tier Two: State Rulings

Each state varies on how they further restrict aviculture. Agencies involved include the particular state’s Fish & Wildlife Dept. States rule on what non-native species are allowed in, how birds are housed, bred, sold, etc.  Generally the laws are made because of the way the government perceives the danger of that species becoming an environmental or agricultural pest in that state if it is released.  Every aviculturist should know their state laws on what is prohibited and what is allowed.

For example:  In California, the white-eye and corvid families of birds are illegal to own.
Tier Three: County Rulings
Agencies involved include the Planning Dept. and Animal Control.  Knowing how your property is zoned is important, especially if planning to have birds outside.  Some aviary structures may require permits.
Tier Four: City Rulings

Agencies involved include the Planning Dept. and Animal Control.

For example:  In Sacramento, CA city limits, it is illegal to house parrots outside.
Tier Five: Neighborhood Restrictions
Restrictions include CCR’s which may further restrict numbers of animals, noise levels, and outside accommodations.  Keep your neighbors happy as they will almost always be the reason someone has trouble!
If Animal Control Comes Knocking At Your Door
Be calm and cordial but know your rights.  Below are some excellent sites dealing with protecting our rights.
http://www.asabirds.org/download.htm  (Excellent downloadable brochures such as the difference between Animal Rights & Animal Welfare Groups.)

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Copyright 10/98  Kateri Davis