Fifty parrots and toucans heading to Japan from Guyana were held at Vancouver International Airport in December – sparking calls from animal wellness advocates for Canada to end international and domestic trade of exotic birds and other wild animals.
In early January, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed to the media that the birds should not have been allowed to enter Canada, which made them subject to be removed from Canadian soil. However, it’s unclear if the birds were sent back to the country of origin or to the intended destination.
BC SPCA said Friday that one toucan was found dead and several others were without food.
Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer for the BC SPCA, said this is just one of thousands of instances of exotic bird trade happening around the world – in many instances involving Canada.
“At any given moment, untold numbers of birds are being caught and shipped around the world. Some are destined for the pet trade here in Canada. Others will merely pass through our borders on their way to being sold as pets in other countries.”
Birds come to Canada from as far away as Africa, Asia and South America. They are often stolen from their nests as eggs or chicks, Dubois said. Then, the animals are transported in overcrowded and poorly ventilated containers.
“The close confinement and highly stressful conditions associated with capture and transport makes birds more susceptible to infection, and endangers the people and other animals who come into contact with them.”
While the United States and the European Union have moved to banning the import of wild-caught birds, Canada has yet to follow suit, leaving Canada open as a route for the exotic trade market – as was the case with the 50 captured birds.
“For example, before they even reach the consumer, as many as 75 per cent of parrots taken from the wild die from stress, disease, rough handling, crushing, asphyxiation or dehydration during capture and transport,” Dubois said.
The BC SPCA has joined a national coalition urging the government to end the wildlife trade and is calling on Canadians to add their voice by signing an online petition.
The animal welfare organization is also suggesting people contact their local pet store to voice concern about the exotic bird trade, talk about the issue with friends and family, avoid sharing posts about exotic animals that suggest they make good pets and always research before taking on a pet bird.
In B.C., large exotic animals such as tigers, alligators and venomous snakes are banned, but owning exotic birds is still permitted.
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