This news release was just posted by Best Friends Animal Society. Media Relations Manager Barbara Williamson just emailed it to me and asked that I post it here on “Parrot Nation:”
Exploding parrot population in U.S. will cause crisis, predicts national
Best Friends Animal Society
National animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society
has long advocated for homeless pets and parrot experts at the Society’s sanctuary say the pet
parrot population explosion is troubling:
October 3, 2011 at 8:18 pm
and or… duh! We have been trying to get Best Friends to do something constructive for the parrot overpopulation issue for 10 years. I personally met with many of the former leaders of BF to no avail. Now they will probably hate me because I had to say…. I told you so! No, it is not politically correct but I am sick and tired of all of the animal welfare orgs who have ignored this issue for too long…. here is a letter I wrote to Richard Avanzino (Maddy’s Fund) in 2000, nearly 12 years ago,
2223 Santa Clara Highway
Alameda, CA 94501-4416
Dear Mr. Avanzino,
I would like you to know how honored I was to attend the recent Cats, Dogs and Public Policy conference in New York last month and to say it was a great privilege to have the opportunity to hear your thoughts on companion animals. So many of the topics touched upon have a direct counterpart in the work we are attempting here at Foster Parrots and it was very enlightening to see how so many of the problems faced by the dog and cat world have been approached and in many cases solved to a great extent by the efforts of people like you.
I could not help but wonder how much further those in the “No Kill” effort could have gotten and how many needless deaths could have been avoided if only the visionaries of 20 or 30 years ago had been listened to and helped along in their dream. If the money now available had been in place then, the establishment of a public educational program could well have saved many millions of lives. As we now watch the progress in your efforts we also watch as history repeats itself proving that the adage “that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”. We now face a new tragedy as the pet trade introduces and mass markets the newest of trendy pets. Reliving the puppy mill ethics they seem ready to do to the parrot community what they did to the dog trade of years past. The promise of huge profits has blinded them to the immoral wholesale marketing of yet another “companion” animal. An animal who’s presence in the pet trade is complicated by the fact that they are not domesticated and therefore still retain the wild traits that make them ill suited to the casual lifestyle that dogs and cats seem to adapt to so easily.
Will we in the parrot rescue efforts face the same twenty year battle? Will we exhaust ourselves in our attempts to care for the birds we have taken in, waiting for someone to assist in our fifteen hour, seven days a week struggle? Will we have to convince the world that there is a problem, only to find that in the time that passes, millions of sensitive, intelligent lives will have been lost? I hope not. We stand before the opportunity to act on what, through past experience, we know will be coming. Preemptive efforts made now could serve to educate the public and save many lives if the threat is met now.
I don’t believe it is possible for me to give you statistics that will convince you that there is an impending disaster. I can tell you that when we started our efforts here at Foster Parrots Ltd., we imagined taking in twenty or thirty birds a year and finding homes for as many as possible, perhaps fifty percent or so. The reality has taken us completely by surprise. Last year we took in fifty-three birds and found homes for twenty-one. We had a population at the end of 1999 of around seventy or so birds. This year we have taken in nearly one hundred and fifty birds and found good homes for only 23. Our current population has topped one hundred and eighty and grows by as many as forty per month. Four new birds will arrive today, one of which we believed we had placed in a home for life. One of the birds that arrived last week was only 6 months old and had been in her new home for only two months before the noise forced her guardian to “get rid” of her. As I walked from the woman’s studio apartment, she proclaimed, “the pet shop never told me how noisy this bird would be!”
We now face turning birds away in an effort to save room for the truly needy, leaving many to be cared for by people who really do not want them and forcing us to abandon our effort to remain a true no kill facility, turning away not one parrot in need of a safe home.
This of course would be contrary to the very reason we are here. Our mission statement states that we hope to always have room for one more bird in need. As a true no kill effort this would mean that we will not turn away anyone. As of now, this goal has been met. It will not be long before we have no choice but to accept only those most in need, leaving the rest to a questionable future. We hope to find the resources necessary to avoid this outcome. Our efforts are compounded by the difficulty of finding qualified homes and the longevity of parrots. As few as one in every one hundred applications prove to be acceptable enough to meet our strict adoption guidelines. It may soon be our fate to decide on who to save.
The purpose of this letter is to open the channels of discussion in the hopes that an alliance or affiliation of some kind might be established with your organization. As an organization of impeccable standards we have admired your work for many years and as an organization with equally high hopes for the animals in our care we are willing to take the highest road available to guarantee an effort beyond reproach. Our attempts to dedicate our efforts to the rescue, sanctuary and adoption of the neglected and abused parrots of our community here in New England have labeled us as fanatics and unfair by those who think we are too protective. We would have no problem meeting your strict regulations and high moral ethics as we strive to meet them on a daily basis here.
Prospective adopters must donate up to six months of time here in our facility before being considered eligible for an adoption. There is a two year probationary period for every adoption and we do home visits. A contract is signed by the adopting party allowing for the removal of the adopted bird(s) at any time should we feel that inappropriate care is being given and we do not adopt out to anyone who wishes to breed or resell the adopted bird. Every consideration is made on behalf of the birds in our care. Although it would be my fondest wish to end our adoption program I believe that this would not be possible in our current situation due to space restrictions. As some birds brought to us would be happier in a more intimate relationship with an attentive guardian, it would not be fair to many of the birds we receive if we did not take their individual circumstances into consideration when deciding whether or not to place them in a caring home or whether they would be better off in a sanctuary situation.
We do have a plan. Unlike the dog and cat rescue groups we have a very obvious advantage. The world’s efforts to save the rainforest and its species coupled with the fact that parrots are so respected by many offers us the opportunity to build a rainforest attraction that will be self sufficient in its continuing rescue efforts as well as an opportunity to serve as an educational resource. We were recently given four acres of land on which we hope to build this dream. Our plan is based on a similar venture here in Massachusetts where tropical butterflies are on display in a tropical setting. “The Butterfly Place” is open only eight months a year and is visited by over 70,000 visitors a year and takes over one half million dollars in entrance fees. We must now look for the money to build this dream, one which will continue its rescue and education efforts long into the future.
I hope that you can find the time to visit our website at http://www.fosterparrots.com (we used the .com as we believed it would be the easiest for people to remember, we also have reserved the .org address and will activate it when finances allow) for more information. I would also invite you to call or write for more information and you are most certainly welcome to visit us if you are ever in the area. I also hope that should you wish to enter the parrot rescue arena that you might consider us as a resource as we would be more than happy to assist you in any way possible.
The time has arrived for an effort that could serve to save many lives. I look forward to hearing from you, working with you and to the role we can play in these efforts. Thank you for your time.
Thank you again,
Foster Parrots Ltd.
P.S. I am enclosing a proposal by the Argentine government to reinstate the exportation of Blue Fronted Amazons to the U.S. and around the world. The American Federation of Aviculture (a group of breeders and those in the pet trade) has no problem with this plan. This proposal was sent to me by Ann Michels of the Species Survival Network in Washington, D.C. Also enclosed please find two articles concerning the coming need for parrot rescue.
Foster Parrots Ltd. is a 501-(C)3 public charity dedicated to solving a problem before it is too late to make a difference in the lives of countless parrots.
October 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm
PS, Richard Avanzino never even replied to this letter….
October 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm
What was their response?
October 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm
Okay then, You just beat me to the punch. Got the message. Thank you for your input.
October 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Forgive me for being so frustrated but it has been a tough 12 years…. This press release is wonderful… but, and I mean this respectfully, perhaps too late for many who have fallen by the wayside….
October 4, 2011 at 7:03 am
But it’s not too late for the ones still needing support. I’m not saying that we should forget past mistakes. I’m simply asking that we move ahead with what we now know, what we can do and try and work from here. We can’t undo the past. But we can make the future better by learning from it.
October 4, 2011 at 10:56 am
But the claimed numbers of pet birds, including the alleged huge increases, are simply not supported supported by any indepent and unbiased sources I’m familiar with. And that’s before noting that 12-15 years ago, the claim was that there were 60-70 million pet birds in the US and of course, the same claim that each would go through 7 homes or more in its lifetime.)
October 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm
The numbers quoted in this article are way out of line. The article suggests that birds are still being imported into the US in great numbers, and that is not true. The WBCA stopped commercial importation in 1992, that’s almost 20 years ago. The research needs to be updated. According to avian veterinarians and bird product manufacturers, the number of pet birds in the US is in a decline. Many of the birds that were common 20 years ago are no longer available or are rarely available.
October 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm
Oh boy. I posted the link to my FaceBook page for Critters & Conservation, but now I see this is more controversial than I expected – numbers being questioned. Guess we all need to slow down and check the source before running off at the mouth, me included. This isn’t the first time. What ever happened to the birds in the house in Troy, Ohio?
October 6, 2011 at 10:03 am
Birds are still being imported in large numbers for zoos and scientific research. The numbers we quoted were directly from the US Government. And if pet birds numbers are in such decline, why am I turning away large numbers of birds each month, because I don’t have room for them? The numbers quoted in the press release all have credible sources, but the bottom line is that any numbers will be an estimation, as there is no way to accurately judge the actual number of birds in the US. But rescues and sanctuaries are full, and birds still need placement. This is a problem, and one that anyone who loves parrots should be concerned about. Encouraging adoption is the best and easiest way to help the situation.
October 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm
If I understand what you are saying, there were large numbers (thousands) of parrots imported into the US in 2010 for zoos and scientific research and you got those numbers from the US government? Please tell me where I can go to find that information. I believe there is a misunderstanding of something there.
Pet birds are absolutely in a decline. I have no idea why you are turning away birds. I assume that it’s because you are not reaching out to the aviculture community who would be people that would be willing to take birds either to keep or to re-home. In the future, instead of turning them away, contact the American Federation of Aviculture (www.afabirds.org) or the Avicultural Society of America (www.asabirds.org) to help with displaced birds.
If birds are not in a decline in the US, why are pet product manufacturers cutting back on research and development of avian products? Why do avian vets have a hard time making a living seeing just birds? Why are the retail prices of birds holding steady and increasing slightly? Supply and demand says that it’s because the demand is starting to surpass the supply.
Until rescue organizations are willing to work with the avian community there will always be a huge disconnect there. I have never reached a saturation point personally, and I know many that would say the same thing. I have rehomed many birds in the past 20 years, and I always have empty cages.