Commercial Utilisation of Australian Native Wildlife


Aviculture Industry

13.1 Commercial trade in native birds has existed for many decades within Australia and a large proportion of endemic species are now represented in captive populations. There are many thousands of people who keep and breed birds for pleasure and for profit. There are hundreds of bird breeding clubs, societies and associations, and peak bodies that represent them. The Avicultural Federation of Australia (AFA), for example, has a membership of approximately 35,000 people. [1] In New South Wales, over 7000 individuals are licensed to hold protected and endangered birds as pets. It is estimated that a similar number hold less that 20 birds under the '19-bird' rule which does not require them to hold a licence. An unknown, but possibly high number also hold birds of the twelve common species which are exempt from licensing controls. [2]

13.2 Aviculturists have a variety of goals, including the keeping and raising of native or exotic birds as a hobby, the raising of a small number of birds of a particular variety for private sale, the raising of a large number of birds for sale through the pet trade and the breeding of rare birds to build up stocks. Bird aviary infrastructure costs can be high and some aviculturists spend a large amount of capital on facilities, especially those involved in captive-breeding programs. Hand-raising birds takes considerable time and effort. Red-tailed black cockatoos, for example, need to be hand fed with a special formula about every four hours for some 8-12 months. [3]

13.3 Dedicated aviculturists carry out a significant amount of research and make an important contribution to life history and scientific knowledge of individual bird species. Australian aviculturists are considered to be some of the best in the world. [4] Such is the extent of aviculture in Australia that populations of quite a number of endemic species are much greater in aviaries than they are in the wild. [5] In New South Wales, for example, there are over 14,000 Major Mitchell cockatoos held in captivity. [6]

13.4 Under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 it is illegal to export live native birds without a permit. Permits can only be issued to approved institutions or to approved zoological organisations for legitimate zoological and scientific purposes. [7] Because permits cannot be issued for any other purpose, by default, their commercial export is prohibited.

13.5 For exotic birds, there is a National Bird Registration Scheme which came into effect on 1 November 1996. It is administered by the Wildlife Protection Section of Environment Australia and all holders of classified exotic birds are required to register under the scheme. [8] There is no equivalent scheme for native birds. However, various state legislations require aviculturists to obtain permits for each bird kept, unless it belongs to a species listed as exempt in that state.

13.6 Because many native birds have been bred in captivity for many generations, sometimes to the extent that a population may be an entirely new colour or size variation, the AFA argues that long-term aviary bred birds should no longer be considered to be 'wild' animals, or 'wildlife', but should be classified as domesticated animals or livestock. [9] If they were classified in this way, then captive-bred variants of native birds would have quite different and less restrictive regulations applied to them.

Bird Identification

13.7 For many years birds have been individually identified through the attachment of a small metal leg band. The type of band used is 'open' and it can be placed on an adult bird, whether captive-bred or wild caught. This banding system, however, is not permanent and can be removed at any time, albeit with some difficulty. For captive-bred birds, a closed steel band can be slid over the foot of juveniles younger than about 21 days which, when the bird grows, cannot be removed except with bolt cutters. The main advantage of closed bands is that they cannot be put on adult birds and thus cannot be put on birds taken from the wild, unless they are younger than 21 days, thus ensuring that wild-caught adult bids cannot be so marked.

13.8 Recent technology has provided two more forms of identification: microchip insertion and DNA profiling. Microchip insertion has become a routine method of identification for many types of domestic animals and some wild animals subject to scientific study (such as the koalas sterilised on Kangaroo Island). The procedure involves the surgical placement of a small chip of glass, silicon and copper, bearing an encoded number, under the animal's skin, usually at a site between the shoulder blades for mammals or in the breast area for birds. The barcode can then be read at any time with a hand-held scanner. Although this is a rapid and accurate method of identifying birds, some problems have been experienced with it, including the loss of a chip or inability to read the chip.

13.9 DNA profiling is now routine and can be carried out to establish parentage and sex of birds. [10] The technology allows the determination of an individual molecular profile, and from this to establish parentage lines. Because DNA profiles are unique for each individual animal and because they cannot be altered in any way, this form of identification is very valuable. However, DNA testing must be carried out by a specifically equipped laboratory and is still quite expensive. Therefore the value of the bird, or its impending sale price, must be relatively high to justify the cost. [11] (See also Box: 'Gene Science' - Avian DNA Sexing.)

13.10 The Northern Territory Cockatoo Breeding and Research Centre, for example, have procedures whereby all young birds are banded with a numbered, fully enclosed steel band. Each bird is also microchipped by the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission, and a DNA profile taken, a sample of which is kept by Curtin University. [12]

Illegal Trade (Smuggling)

13.11 The illegal export from Australia of live birds and eggs has existed for many years. While the extent of smuggling is largely unknown, the fact that so many species of native Australian birds have appeared overseas during the years of prohibition is sufficient evidence that some smuggling operations have been very successful. The number of Australian birds kept in aviaries overseas is also clear evidence that there is a continuing strong demand for Australian birds and, in particular, the less common species. [13] Smuggling has a significant detrimental impact because it removes many more birds from the wild than the market requires because of the high in-transit mortality rate. It also results in the destruction of nesting sites and other damage to habitat. [14]

13.12 Although smuggling was frequently mentioned in evidence to the Committee as being a threat to the conservation status of many species of birds in Australia, specific evidence about the level of smuggling operations was difficult to obtain. When asked about their knowledge of smuggling activities, most aviculturists stated they had no doubt that illegal removal of birds occurred but that the evidence was mostly circumstantial, or obtained from news reports. Examples of this were as follows.

13.13 The only direct evidence of smuggling described by an aviculturist came from Mr John Allen (Avi-Ark Pty Ltd, Perth) who stated that he had unknowingly been involved in a smuggling operation when he exchanged information with a friend who was later convicted and served an 8-month sentence. [21]

13.14 Representatives of CALM explained to the Committee that the main problem lay with obtaining sufficient information to proceed with, and achieve, a successful prosecution. While there was direct evidence in the field that nests had been raided, information about who was involved was mostly circumstantial. DNA testing of aviary birds, however, was now being used to assist in confirming wildlife crime. In one instance, CALM suspected that several breeders of white-tailed black cockatoos had wild-caught birds (or had birds raised from eggs removed from the wild) illegally in their aviaries. By taking material from known nests in the wild and comparing it with material from the birds held in aviaries, the Department was able to prove that birds which where supposed to be captive-bred had in fact come from the wild and successful prosecutions followed. [22]

13.15 There was some disagreement in the evidence as to whether birds smuggled out of Australia were wild caught or aviary-bred. A representative of PIJAC, Mr Cameron McTavish, told the Committee that because most rare bird species were common in aviaries no one would bother trying to collect them from the wild if they were for sale from a cage. Many smuggled birds are purchased legally because it is easier to buy them than it is to find and trap them in the bush. [23]

13.16 However, while several aviculturists claimed that they would not smuggle birds themselves because of the risks, nor would they sell their birds to known smugglers because of concerns for the welfare of their birds, [24] Mr Allen suggested that aviculturists may unwittingly deal with smugglers, having no knowledge at the time or afterwards. [25] Aviculturists also pointed to the finding of damaged nests as evidence that eggs and juvenile birds had been taken from the wild. [26]

Commercial Use of Superabundant Species

13.17 Owing to increased food supplies in some agricultural areas of Australia, there are now some very large flocks of some species of native birds, mainly sulphur crested cockatoos, corellas, and galahs. [27] In South Australia, for example, galahs and little corellas are unprotected species and are considered to be an agricultural pest. They may be shot by landowners or their employees without a permit. However, in other states, pest eradication permits are required. The destruction of superabundant birds has led to the suggestion that farmers be allowed to trap and export them instead. The commercial gain made by farmers could then be used to offset the cost of damage to crops. [28]

13.18 Mr Clem Campbell, Member for Bundaberg, argued in his submission that current policies inadvertently resulted in both a high value illegal market and considerable waste of potential income. He suggested that if licensed farmers were allowed to sell a quota of birds under a regulated scheme, it may even pay them to grow crops just to feed the birds. Further, it would earn foreign currency for Australia and reduce the potency of the illegal market. [29]

13.19 However, the AFA is opposed to this idea for a number reasons. First, wild caught birds do not make good pets. Captive-bred birds are usually hand reared and thus become 'imprinted' to people. They bond with their owners and become people and house 'trained'. Wild birds, especially if old, do not bond well with people and thus make less satisfying companions. In addition, they do not settle well in cages and may injure themselves and cause disruption to other stock.

13.20 Second, wild caught birds may carry disease and often do not thrive in aviaries. Third, wild caught birds are easily stressed and often die from stress-related causes when transported. Captive-bred birds are much less susceptible to stress. Fourth, aviculturists in other countries do not want Australia's 'pest' species exported to their countries where they may cause problems as 'feral' animals. [30] Fifth, taking birds from the wild for the pet trade confuses the argument that aviary bred birds should be considered to be 'livestock'. [31]

13.21 Finally, wild harvesting of 'superabundant' birds may have a long-term detrimental impact on the regional population stability of that species. Because of their high degree of mobility, large flocks of birds seen around crops may in fact be a concentration of all birds from a broad area, leaving the surrounding bushland temporarily vacant. Removal of pest birds from one agricultural area may result in their unintended removal from a whole region. [32]

13.22 The Humane Society International argued in evidence to the Committee that exporting problem species (such as sulphur crested cockatoos) was not a satisfactory solution because it created two other problems - that of ensuring the humane transport of live animals, and that of a pest species entering another country where it may also achieve 'pest' status. [33]

13.23 Parrot expert, Mr Joseph Forshaw, emphasised in his evidence that, in addition to all the other reasons, an export program would not account for enough birds to make any impact on the agricultural problem. In his opinion, the overseas market for such species would quickly become saturated. He was also of the view that, on a national level, the problem of crop damage by birds was not significant. He emphasised that the problem of superabundant species and the question of whether live exports of native Australian birds should be allowed, 'were two totally separate issues which should be addressed independently'. [34]

13.24 The South Australian Government, which allows ranching of agricultural pest species, also agrees that these birds should not be subject to proposals to export them. As explained by Mr Lindsay Best of DERN:

There is once again another myth around that you could export some of our pest bird problems, such as the large cockatoos, because on the black market they fetch a lot of money. But they are pest birds. A high proportion of them carry parrot diseases, they stress easily in captivity coming from the wild, so we would not support that. They are not going to solve the problem of damage to crops either … [35]

13.25 Finally, Animal Liberation (Victoria) claimed in its submission to the Committee that the problem of pest species of birds was 'a human creation' and that killing birds or catching them for export was not a realistic solution to crop damage. The organisation believes that 'crop and livestock practices should be developed which would minimise their attractiveness and vulnerability to birds'. [36]

Ranching of Wild Birds

13.26 In New South Wales, it is an offence to take birds from the wild except under licence. Licences are issued each year to three expert bird trappers to trap sulphur crested cockatoos and galahs where pest mitigation permits have been issued to protect crops. Birds trapped in this way must be released elsewhere or sold to the pet trade. [37]

13.27 In South Australia, galahs and little corellas are considered to be agricultural pests and permits can be obtained by people to trap birds or take juveniles from nest hollows for the live pet trade. Several thousand birds are ranched from the wild in this way each year. However, while conditions are attached to the permits which address animal welfare issues and which ensure that no habitat destruction occurs, the South Australian Government acknowledges that 'it is likely that a considerable proportion of birds taken in this manner die before reaching maturity'. [38]

13.28 As a general principle, the Victorian Government does not support harvesting of birds from the wild on the basis that most species are now already represented in aviaries and because of the potential impact on bird populations and their habitats. However, three species can be taken from the wild under permit (sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and long-billed corellas). These birds may then be sold by commercial wildlife controllers to local wildlife dealers for sale to the Australian public only. This program is supported by monitoring to ensure that it does not have an impact on the conservation status of the species. [39]

13.29 The Northern Territory Government fully supports the sustainable use of wildlife as a legitimate land use strategy. As part of this philosophy, the government has moved to allow the ranching of red-tailed black cockatoo eggs and hatchlings from the wild under a species management plan. [40] Through this, the government believes, an economic return can be gained by people in remote locations and land can be managed in a way that will benefit conservation of not only the species but the whole habitat in which it lives.

13.30 In arguing the case for this program, a representative of the Northern Territory Government, Dr Bill Freeland, stated:

Our concern … is for the welfare of the individual cockatoo. That puts an onus on us to ensure that the product that we export, or even ship to Melbourne or wherever else, is one that is of a high quality. That means one that is well acclimated to human contact, that knows people and knows modern society, if you like, so that it is not going to get stressed out; one that is tame and friendly.

There are two ways to achieve that. One is to put them in a large aviary and breed them, and export the product. That has no return for conservation whatsoever; no value for conservation in any sense at all. If you look at our draft management program for red-tailed black cockatoos, you will notice that it is a ranching program, similar to the crocodile program, where we are advocating the harvesting of eggs and fledglings which would be hand reared. They would then be well acclimated to people and modern surroundings and be capable of being transferred and transported around the place without undue stress. In other words, captive breeding will produce what you are looking for, but ranching will do the same thing and give you additional benefits. [41]

13.31 In support of the program, biologists Vardon, Noske and Moyle claimed in a 1996 conference paper:

The proposed management is appropriate given that the alternative strategy, 'do-nothing', has failed in other parts of Australia and that limited public funds are available for species or habitat conservation. Provided adequate resources are dedicated to implementing the management program, a catastrophic collapse in the Northern Territory population is highly unlikely, whereas the species will almost certainly benefit from increased awareness and a greater understanding of its biology by private landowners. It will also make a valuable contribution to the science of sustainable utilisation of wild resources. [42]

13.32 However, AACW objects to the Northern Territory red-tailed black cockatoo management plan. In general, AACW believes that the plan is 'not only contradictory in terms of conserving the species and their habitats, but seeks to mislead the reader and allay any fears one may have in terms of long-term survival of the species'. The AACW believes that the aim of the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission of 'minimising illegal harvests' by allowing commercialisation, is 'a most naive and dangerous mentality to adopt, especially when the same department is responsible for conserving, maintaining and monitoring this species and the habitat they depend on'. In the opinion of AACW, placing a commercial value on black cockatoos will logically lead to further threats to the status of wild birds from poachers, farmers and 'anyone seeking to make a quick commercial return'. Specific criticisms of the plan included the opinion that commercialisation of black cockatoos will result in subsidies from the government to private entrepreneurs and that the plan gave no consideration to the impact that the species may have on the importing country. [43]

13.33 Parrot expert, Mr Joseph Forshaw, also expressed opposition to the Northern Territory program. In addition to concerns about the efficacy of identification, he argued that the Northern Territory proposal was '… ill-conceived and poorly researched'. [44] In his view, the program was based on 'bad science' because information was lacking on recruitment levels of red-tailed black cockatoos; a significant point because the species was capable of great longevity and any failure in recruitment may not become evident for many years, by which time it may be too late for the population to recover. He argued that the scheme was not economic and that the returns to the expected land-holder would not eventuate, particularly as the world demand for birds raised from ranched eggs was diminishing. [45]

13.34 In addition, the AFA did not support the concept of ranching of birds (or eggs) because of the possible harm to wild populations. [46] In its view, wild harvesting should only be used to initiate or supplement captive breeding. As described by the AFA, although populations of many of the larger species of birds, such as the black and white cockatoos, are believed to be stable in terms of size, recent research suggests that those populations are ageing and that, because of habitat destruction and resultant loss of nesting sites, recruitment of juveniles into the populations may not be occurring at a fast enough rate to prevent their demise at some later stage. Thus while ranching may appear sustainable now, it may not be in the very long term. [47] If breeding adults are taken it may take years before the remaining juveniles are old enough to breed. If too many juveniles are taken, there may be a considerable gap in the demography of the breeding population at a later time. Many species of birds mate 'for life' and if one partner of a breeding pair were removed, the other partner may not ever breed again.

13.35 The ranching of eggs also has problems. Newly hatched hand-reared birds imprint on humans and while those individuals may make good pets, they may fail to breed when they are adults. Some species, such as finches, cannot be satisfactorily hand-reared from incubated eggs because their small size results in a job that is far too labour-intensive to be economic. However, they do breed on their own very successfully in aviaries. [48] In addition, ranching of eggs or juveniles may cause inadvertent damage to wild populations through disturbance to nests and nesting sites, and to individuals through invasion of nesting 'space'.

13.36 The AFA believes that, as a mechanism for preserving habitat, ranching does not work for birds as total habitat requirements are unlikely to be met by a single rural property because feed sources are wide and varied, with strong seasonal influences, and nesting trees are often not associated with food sources. This means that the property owners with the nesting trees would benefit from ranching at the expense of property owners with the food resources.

13.37 In addition to the AFA, several aviculturists in the Northern Territory who gave evidence to the Committee, did not support the ranching of birds, except as a one-off exercise to obtain foundation breeding stock. Mr Peter McGrath of the Northern Territory Parrot Breeding and Export Centre, for example, stated that he did not support the continual harvesting of black cockatoos because there was insufficient information about the life history of the species and, in particular, recruitment rates over time. He suggested instead, that land owners be recompensed for making efforts to retain wildlife by allowing them to establish or participate in captive breeding programs from establishment stock taken from their land or through the payment of royalties. [49] Mr Phil Reader of the Northern Territory Cockatoo Breeding and Research Centre stated in evidence that if ranching were allowed, it should only be of juvenile animals, taken from nests to reduce the stress on the bird, and that they should only be given or sold to specialised aviculturists on the domestic market and not released in the pet trade. [50]

13.38 Alderman Geoff Harris of Alice Springs expressed concern that there was insufficient scientific data to support the Northern Territory Government's decision and that an independent cost-benefit study was needed for the proposal. In addition, he noted that if the harvesting program looked detrimental to the species, but that industry had already invested in the trial, the option of complete cessation of the program was not one that would be readily considered. [51]

13.39 Animal Liberation (Victoria) totally opposed the capture of wild birds for any commercial or non-commercial use, primarily because 'to condemn a previously free-ranging bird to a life in a small cage is an insufferable cruelty, not to mention the stress of its capture and the fact that it will no longer have the company of its own kind … this concept is ethically and morally wrong'. [52] In addition, Animal Liberation agreed with the view that wild caught birds do not make good pets.

13.40 Finally, despite the efforts of the Northern Territory Government to place a conservation value on native wildlife, the ranching of birds for export markets may never eventuate for the simple reason that many countries have placed or are moving towards placing a ban on the import of wild-caught birds. The USA for example, has legislated to prohibit the import of non-captive-bred birds. [53]

Obtaining Breeding Stock from the Wild

13.41 In the late 1980s, the Northern Territory Parks and Conservation Commission, in conjunction with several aviculturists, [54] took from the wild fifty red-tailed black cockatoos to use as breeding stock. The birds were taken from a region some 80 km south of Darwin where they were causing damage to rice crop and were being shot under pest control licences by farmers. At the time they were taken, witnesses observed that there were between 5,000 and 15,000 birds in the flock, and so the small number taken resulted in little difference to the amount of damage to the crops. What did result was two things: access by aviculturists to native species of bird for breeding purposes; [55] and a greater degree of understanding between aviculturists, farmers and government officials of the problems caused by superabundant red-tailed black cockatoos, and of ways of addressing them. The final outcome has been a formal cockatoo management program for the Northern Territory, released in 1996. [56]

Captive-Breeding of Rare or Endangered Species

13.42 The survival of birds that have been kept in captivity and subsequently released into the wild depends on a variety of factors. Birds that have been bred in captivity and hand-reared, and which have imprinted on humans generally do not survive. If released, they frequently return to the cage for security. Some pet birds are allowed by their owners to free-fly, after which time they return for food and protection. Birds that are hand-reared often do not breed as readily as parent-reared birds and so aviculturists handle breeding stock much less than they handle birds intended to be companion animals. Birds that are bred with the intention of release into the wild are treated differently again and may have little or no human contact and are encouraged to forage by more natural methods.

13.43 With this knowledge, private aviculturists are playing an increasing role in the breeding of rare or endangered species to build up stocks for return to the wild. Having noted the fact that quite a number of uncommon or rare Australian birds are more abundant in aviaries, several government conservation departments have enlisted the support of private aviculturists in breeding programs.

13.44 A example of this is the effort made by CALM to increase the abundance of the Naretha bluebonnet parrot (Northiella haematogaster narethae) and prevent poaching of it. This species is not endangered but has a restricted distribution in the wooded fringes of the Nullarbor. Although not a ground dwelling bird, it feeds and drinks at ground level. Because of its status, aviculturists were reluctant to keep it in aviaries and so it was subject to considerable poaching from the wild for overseas markets where it was much sought after. [57]

13.45 CALM approved the capture of 40 birds from the wild and their lease to private aviculturists who were able to build up numbers for subsequent release back to the wild and for sale within Australia. In addition, conservation efforts in the wild were assisted by a landowner who provided facilities which enabled the bird to drink without drowning.

13.46 According to aviculturist Ms Diana Anderson, the program was very successful:

The birds were … DNA tested before they were ever handed out. Their genetic imprint, their DNA imprint, is kept on record, and the birds were shared up amongst a group of aviculturists. Now, the breeding success of those birds in captivity has been extremely good. Any of the birds can be traced back to the original birds that were trapped at any stage through the DNA testing. It has made them a great deal more available in aviculture, and it has brought the price down to something that is more reasonable.

… The program is now considered terminated and CALM no longer owns any of the birds. They were put up to public tender. But I have a pair that I can go into CALM and find out where they came from by their DNA testing and their identification rings. [58]

13.47 However, representatives of the Conservation Council of Western Australia criticised the way in which the program was conducted and, in particular, asserted that there had been insufficient community consultation as to whether it was the best way to look after endangered species. According to Council Coordinator, Ms Rachel Siewert:

There was some years ago an outcry over taking blue bonnets from the natural environment and commercialising those, allowing breeders to breed them. Concerns there were that it was not put out to the public before it occurred, that tenders were not specifically called, is my understanding. There was some concern about the way that the process was handled. There was concern about the lack of scientific information on the blue bonnets and the supporting data … the fact that the issue has not been widely debated in the community and concern about whether this is the best way to look after species that are endangered … [59]

13.48 Despite this criticism, CALM believes that the Naretha bluebonnet program has been very successful. As well as providing an income of $23,000 from the sale of birds to contribute to CALM's avicultural management and research funds, [60] pressure from poaching on wild populations has been reduced and possibly eliminated, and information about the biology of the species has been gathered:

[It] has proven to be successful in terms of providing the supply that the avicultural fanciers wanted to have. We believe it has reduced, if not eliminated, the pressure on the wild population in terms of poaching that was going on, and it has returned a direct benefit to conservation in terms of knowledge of the status of that population by the genetic and other scientific studies that we did in association with that operation. It has provided some funding by virtue of the payments that the aviculturists made that have been ploughed back into avicultural management and research. [61]

13.49 With the success of the bluebonnet program, the Department has extended the concept of private sector involvement in conservation to several other species. This has included white-tailed black cockatoos, where CALM approved the ranching of 40 eggs for incubation and hand rearing by private aviculturists, [62] and Gouldian finches which were reduced dramatically in number in the Kimberley region of Western Australia by a throat mite. On that occasion, a group of aviculturists donated some pure-bred stock which were successfully released back into the wild by CALM. [63] Programs for more species commenced in 1996-97, including Muir's corella (threatened subspecies, none known in aviculture), Carnaby's cockatoo (specially protected and difficult to breed in captivity), red-eared firetail finch (specially protected and rare in aviculture) and the southern emu-wren (none in aviculture). [64]

Industry Potential

13.50 Returns for the sale of birds within Australia vary considerably between species and over time. In the pet industry, birds are akin to fashion items: one species will be popular for a period of time, to be superseded at a later stage by another species. However, very large birds, such as galahs and cockatoos remain fashionable, as do brightly coloured birds.

13.51 Over the last decade, advances in avicultural management techniques and avian veterinary care has resulted in dramatic increases in the number of birds in aviaries in Australia. This has created a surplus of birds to current domestic market requirements and there has been a consequent downturn in the market value for captive-bred birds. [65] At the moment, returns for bird sales in Australia are seriously limited by both the small size of the domestic market and the inability of legitimate breeders to export surplus stock and aviculturists are now finding it difficult to meet costs and to dispose of surplus birds. [66]

13.52 The AFA claims that there are significant markets for a number of Australian birds overseas and if export was approved, the returns for captive-bred native birds could be quite high. Young black cockatoos retail for between $2,500 (Red-tails) and $7,000 (Glossy) in Australia and these prices have held for many years. Recent evidence suggests that a pair of black cockatoos could sell for as much as $30,000 in America. [67] Although prices could be expected to drop if the sale of Australian birds overseas was legalised, the industry believes that it may take considerable time for the market to become saturated, if ever. The AFA believes that margins on sales of this magnitude are sufficient to cover transport, microchipping and DNA profiling. [68]

13.53 The value of Australian native birds, in Australia and overseas, was considered by RIRDC in its report on Sustainable Economic Use of Native Australian Birds and Reptiles, and a selection of prices taken from that report is listed below in Table 13.1. As noted in the RIRDC report, overseas prices are consistently higher and prices for large birds are higher than for small birds, reflecting the lower fecundity and greater difficulty in breeding large birds.

13.54 According to Ms Anderson, allowing the export of native birds would 'inject vitality into a struggling industry and would be considered a valuable export industry for Australia'. [69] She noted that the practice of aviculture in many overseas countries was well developed and that large, specialised breeding complexes would be capable of breeding many of the smaller and more prolific Australian species within a ten year period, which would eliminate the need for further importations of Australian stock. However, within that period demand would be high and profitable.

13.55 As an example of the potential for expansion, Ms Anderson noted that an avicultural enterprise in Manila, 'Birds International', which houses six thousand birds on a six-acre property, breeds to order large quantities of birds for overseas markets. They retain 15 per cent of stock bred each year for future breeding. Ms Anderson believes that 'similar establishments could be developed in Australia to house specifically Australian species of birds and the benefit to the Australian economy in terms of trade would be substantial'. Flow-on effects could include a boost to domestic markets for birds and a rejuvenated interest in breeding birds in captivity which could assist the recovery of rare species in the wild. [70]

13.56 The AFA has noted the Model Avicultural Program (MAP) established in America (see Box: Model Avicultural Program) and believes that a similar program would benefit the industry in Australia. If exportation was legalised, such a program could make a significant contribution to both regulation and to the welfare of captive birds.

BirdAustralian Price ($AUS)Overseas Price ($AUS)
Red-tailed black cockatoo1,7508,900
Gang-gang cockatoo5008,800
Major Mitchell cockatoo350300
Cloncurry parrot175467
Sulphur crested cockatoo601,200
Hooded parrot50300
Adelaide parrot50190
Princess parrot30340
Eastern rosella3072
Turquoise parrot1550
Red-rumped parrot1250

Table 13.1 – Comparison of prices for various species of Australian birds sold in Australia and in America (Source: 1997 Sustainable Economic of Native Australian Birds and Reptiles – Can controlled trade improve conservation of species? A Summary Report RIRDC Research Paper Series No. 97/26a, p. 3).

Export of Captive-Bred Native Birds

13.57 There are very many Australian birds in overseas aviaries and clearly a continuing strong market for Australian birds, particularly the less common species. However, because, in practical terms, the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 prohibits the commercial export of live birds for profit, aviculturists who have kept birds for many generations in captivity are prevented from participating in international trade in those birds. This is despite the fact that those birds can be traded anywhere within Australia for commercial gain, despite the fact that many Australian species already exist in overseas aviaries and despite the fact that many of the birds kept in captivity in Australia no longer resemble their wild ancestors.

13.58 Many aviculturists believe that it is bureaucratic hypocrisy for state governments to issue pest destruction permits which allow the shooting of cockatoos in natural habitat because they are causing damage to crops, but to not allow any revenue to be raised from the same species of birds through breeding and export. [71] While aviculturists argue that there are no logical reasons to continue the ban on exportation of live native birds, they also argue that some conservation benefits may in fact accrue from an export scheme. [72]

13.59 From evidence presented to the Committee is was clear that the avicultural industry in Australia, and a number of other independent groups, support changing provisions of the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 to allow the limited export of native birds. [73] Generally, there are two main reasons given for this:

13.60 In addition to reducing the incentive to smuggle, the avicultural industry believes that the export of native birds may result in a number of other direct and indirect benefits to conservation:

13.61 The Queensland Council of Bird Societies, supported by the AFA and many others, [74] recommended that Australia introduce a well regulated trial of the limited export of some endemic, captive-bred specimens of selected species, particularly those species that have been the target of illegal poaching from the wild and smuggling overseas. Many aviculturists who gave evidence to the Committee supported the idea that legalising the export of Australian birds would undermine illegal operations and would thus have a beneficial impact on conservation. [75]

13.62 The specific proposal made by the Queensland Council of Bird Societies emphasised the need for government involvement in overseas trade in birds. Such a scheme would allow the generation of revenue not only for those involved in commercial ventures, but for administration costs. Any revenue surplus to the cost of administration could be used for scientific research and the conservation of rare or endangered species. [76] This proposal is based on the fact that there are large numbers of breeding stock of many species in aviaries and that those species could withstand regular 'farming' for export, [77] and the fact that there is a strong market overseas for quiet, hand-reared birds. [78] In addition, because the proposal was based on the export of captive-bred birds, all already held legally, there would be no detrimental environmental impact and, in fact, there could be a significant conservation benefit through a reduction in illegal poaching and smuggling activities.

13.63 Other features of the scheme were that it would:

13.64 In support of a change to Federal restrictions on the export of native birds, a recent RIRDC report concluded:

The potential value of wildlife species outside reserves should be allowed to be realised to help protect habitat and thereby safeguard wildlife populations in the long term and even assist increase numbers. … The current management regime for Australian birds and reptiles by State and the Commonwealth should be altered to allow the export of specimens of a limited range of species on a trial basis.

1. Initially, captive breeding, focusing on smaller species to which animals welfare concerns are less likely to apply. For example: budgerigars and cockatiels, if market demand indicates it is worth while at current prices, …

2. The harvesting from the wild of surplus young before hand rearing in captivity (ranching) for common species. Species of potential for the trial include: galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos …

3. Next ranching operations should be extended to less common species but only as part of a management plan that includes prior habitat improvement, mortality control and agreement to release back into the wild. The scheme could include less common species such as: gang gang, Major Mitchell and red-tailed black cockatoos, birds of prey such as peregrine falcons, cassowaries, bustards.

The provisions and requirements of CITES in regard to ranching, breeding species in captivity and transport should be used as the minimum criteria set for the proposal above. [80]

13.65 The Western Australia Government supports the limited export of some species of captive-bred native birds. According to the Director of CALM, Mr Keiran McNamara:

We in CALM and ministers that I have worked for have, on various occasions, put to the federal government,both in ANZECC, the ministerial council, and directly in the review of the Wildlife Protection (Regulations of Exports and Imports) Act,that that ban on live bird exports should be lifted. Beyond that it is not a matter that we have devoted, if you like, a huge amount of attention to, because the ban remains. Should it be lifted we would look at how various exports from captive bred or wild sourced birds might take place and what species might or might not be suitable for that. [81]

13.66 Mr McNamara suggested that the technology was available to properly manage such a program without adverse impacts on the conservation of species in the wild. Should the ban be lifted, however, Mr McNamara cautioned that it would not be a solution to the problem of superabundant birds, and that the high levels of return which have been suggested may not eventuate. In addition, there were a number of other issues that would need to be taken into account, such as animal welfare. [82] In this regard, the Australian Veterinary Association commented that to be considered humane, exports would have to be limited and strictly controlled. [83]

Objections to Commercialisation and Export of Birds

13.67 In Australia there is a small but vocal lobby opposed to the trapping and selling of native birds, the export of all birds and the phasing out of caged birds altogether. [84] These views are based on the fundamental belief that it is immoral to cage birds. [85] In its submission to the Committee, the Native Bird Liberation Alliance (NBLA) made a series of points arguing a case against legalising the export of Australian birds. The arguments against allowing export were as follows: [86]

13.68 However, the avicultural industry, as represented by the AFA, strongly contests these views and a summary of objections is given in Table 13.2.

13.69 Although sympathetic to the view taken by the AFA, that export of captive-bred birds be allowed, parrot expert Mr Joseph Forshaw outlined two concerns. The first was that despite recent advances in identification technology (DNA profiling and microchipping), 'a recent overturning by an appeal court of a conviction based on DNA fingerprinting must bring into doubt the adequacy of the technique for enforcement purposes'. [90] The second, and possibly more significant issue was that, in the opinion of Mr Forshaw, the export of captive-bred birds would bring about increased demand for rarer birds or birds which were not easily bred in captivity. This in turn would bring an upsurge in the illegal taking of birds from the wild. [91] In support of this view, Mr Joseph Forshaw argued that as long as the costs of breeding were higher than the costs of unregulated harvesting, smuggling of wild caught birds would continue. In his submission, he stated: 'There can be no doubt that legal export of harvested or captive-bred parrots will be more costly for both exporter and importer than is the smuggling of eggs. Consequently I foresee little or no decrease of smuggling as a result of relaxation of existing controls on export'. [92]

13.70 Mr Forshaw argued that the proof of this lay in the fact that accompanying the legalising of importation of exotic birds into Australia, had been an upsurge in illegal importation. This was evidenced by the number of exotic birds now commercially available in Australia that were not available here prior to the import ban being introduced. [93] He concluded that:

Before any change in policy is made to allow the export of captive-bred birds, there must be a critical analysis by State, Territory and Commonwealth wildlife authorities of all possible implications, and the avicultural community must demonstrate a willingness to eliminate all illicit activities, a stand that it has not been eager to adopt with respect to illegal importation. [94]

13.71 However, the Cape York Herpetological Society suggested that the upsurge in illegal importation of exotic birds was a consequence of the excessively expensive and bureaucratic provisions of the scheme. Because it was near impossible to bring exotic birds into Australia legally (the complete process has 10 stages which may take up to three years to complete), the illegal trade remained competitive and was ultimately preferred. [95]

Case Against ExportCase For Export
Smuggling would not decrease, it would move to rarer, non-legal species. [96]It is time consuming and costly to trap birds in the wild, and cheaper to source them from aviaries. For common species, allowing export of captive-bred birds would eliminate any incentive to take from the wild, simply on economic grounds. For rare or valuable species, the incentive would still exist, but these species would be excluded from trade and thus any attempt to export them through legal channels could be detected. Smuggling of rare species may still occur, but as more species were permitted to be bred in aviaries, and ultimately exported, incentives to trade in them would be removed as well.
Increase in customs enforcement problems.A DNA system of identification and MAP certification would in fact make enforcement relatively easy.
Exportation of 'pest' species will not solve the problems caused by those birds.The AVA agrees that exportation of pest species will not solve problems in agricultural areas and disagrees with ranching of adult birds.
It is irresponsible to send 'pest' species to other countries, and the importing country would not accept the birds anyway. [97]The proposed system would allow only captive-bred birds to be exported. Hand-reared birds have a very low survival rate in the wild in Australia and would have even less chance of survival in a foreign habitat if they escaped from a cage. Because overseas buyers would pay a relatively large amount of money for imported birds, the chance of them being set free would be very low. Overseas countries have the right to refuse the importation of exotic birds. The AFA is opposed to the live trapping of wild birds for trade, whether they are a pest to crops or not.
Transportation causes unacceptable stress to birds, many of which die in transit. [98]In the past, the conditions that birds were transported in were not good. Better methods of transport have increased survival rates to almost 100%. Mortality during shipment nowadays is more often caused by poor quarantine procedures in the receiving country, than conditions during transit. Wild caught birds succumb to stress more readily than captive-bred birds. Traders do not sell expensive, captive-bred birds and then neglect shipping arrangement. [99]
Importing birds to other countries exposes them to diseases that they are not immune to.Most aviaries maintain a high level of sanitation to protect their own birds from disease. Buyers of expensive birds could be expected to take all precautions to keep the imported birds healthy. Export permits could be conditional on birds being sold to MAP customers only.
The export of wild-caught birds is contrary to the spirit of resolutions passed by CITES.Ironically, many of the species of birds that are rare in Australia, and listed under CITES Appendix I or II, are very common in aviaries. These birds have been bred in captivity for so long that they should no longer be considered as 'wildlife', but as 'livestock'. CITES is a convention that was established with the purpose of allowing trade, not prohibiting it. [100] The AFA, however, does not condone the capture of wild birds for export purposes and suggests that there would be little economic benefit from it. [101]
Allowing captive-bred birds to be sold in pet shops encourages the illegal trapping of wild caught birds for retail sale. [102] Wild caught birds do not make good pets; they are not friendly to people and suffer stress when handled. Any pet shop owner who sold wild caught birds would have many disgruntled customers. The sale of rare species within Australia is controlled by a licence system. [103]
The main people to profit from export trade would be a small number of dealers.Trade in any commodity may result in profit, or loss, but development of the aviculture industry through an increase in export markets would result in economic benefits to other sectors (eg. construction materials for aviaries, purchase of bird feed, veterinary care and employment in aviaries).
Permitting exportation of Australian native birds would weaken the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 and set a precent for the export of all sorts of other native animals.All wildlife export applications should be considered on a species-by-species basis. It does not automatically follow that allowing the export of one or some species of birds, will result in approvals for the export of all wildlife. The AFA advocates a carefully controlled and monitored system. [104]

Table 13.2 - Summary of issues for and against the export of captive-bred native birds, as debated by the NBLA and the AFA.

Summary and Conclusions

13.72 The avicultural industry in Australia is large and well established, and commercial trade in native birds has existed within Australia for many years. Almost all endemic birds species are now kept and bred in captivity and many species which are rare in the wild ironically exist in large numbers in captivity. The avicultural industry believes that second or later generation native birds, bred in captivity, should no longer be defined as 'wildlife' but instead should be defined as 'livestock'. Wild-caught birds are difficult to manage in captivity and do not make good companion animals, whereas captive-bred, hand-reared birds can make very good pets.

13.73 The Committee does not agree with the routine capture and commercial use of adult wild birds and believes that, with the exception of particular circumstances where the capture of a limited number of birds, accompanied by an approved management plan, may result in some conservation benefit, harvesting adult birds from the wild should be prohibited.

13.74 The avicultural industry believes that there is no longer any rational reason for prohibiting the export of captive-bred native birds, and that in fact there may be good reasons for allowing their export. These reasons relate to both the economics of the industry and the conservation status of various birds. The industry is keen to have commercial use of native birds extended to the export trade, under a well regulated scheme. However, some community groups hold opposing views and are keen to ensure that no changes are made to the legislation.

13.75 While a number of arguments against legalised export of live native birds have been raised, the most significant in terms of conservation and biodiversity is whether such a change would reduce activities associated with the illegal removal of birds from the wild. As stated in Chapter Seven (Paragraph 7.73), the Committee notes that prohibition of trade has not prevented smuggling of live birds (or eggs) overseas and that private enterprise in other countries has benefited from commercial use of Australian species.

Box: 'Gene Science' - Avian DNA Sexing

New technology can now be used to determine the sex of a bird from either a feather or blood sample. The company, Gene Science, which performs the DNA test at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Monash University), claims that the test is 99.9% accurate. For a test conducted on feathers, two secondary feathers or one growing or 'blood' feather is required. For a blood test, a small drop of blood is taken by clipping the bird's toe nail. The feathers and blood samples can be sent by mail and the result are usually received within 5 days. A certificate is issued with the results.

The DNA Sex Test uses a sex linked gene which gives distinctive and different banding patterns for males and females. The procedure costs between $38 and $48 per test, depending on the type of test (feather or blood), and the number of tests requested at any one time. Testing for parentage requires a blood sample and cannot be done with just feathers. If the DNA profile of both parents has been determined, then progeny can be positively identified as coming from those parents. [105]

Box: Model Avicultural Program

In America, a Model Avicultural Program (MAP) has been designed by aviculturists and avian veterinarians to improve avicultural practices through the setting of standards for husbandry and to provide for the certification of approved establishments. The scheme is run by a non-profit service organisation, the cost of which is funded through application fees. Administration of the scheme is carried out by a part-time employee and it is managed by a voluntary Board of Directors assisted by an Advisory Board.

There are three key elements to MAP:

(1) The use of models and guidelines for husbandry practices (quarantine, safety systems, caging, nutrition, nursery, and record keeping) which are used for planning and improving facilities, and inspections by veterinarians.

(2) The use of veterinarians as inspectors, and inspections of facilities and record keeping procedures prior to certification.

(3) The use of a 'closed aviary' concept, comprising isolated keeping areas for different activities (quarantine, transition, breeding, nursery, adult birds, food stores, etc) to assist in disease control.

MAP is intended for use at any level, from the hobbyist holding a few birds to businesses with very large holdings, and institutions such as public zoos. Guidelines are available for aviculturists to follow in the planning, construction and maintenance of model avian facilities. Inspection by veterinarians for certification requires a response to a series of questions relating to quarantine, safety systems and locks, cages and flights, cleaning, sanitation and vermin control, capture and handling of birds, nestboxes, nutrition, paediatrics and record keeping systems.

Once a facility has been certified, all birds sold by MAP participants must be accompanied by written conditions which include not only information about the particular bird, but directions and instructions regarding basic care, husbandry and nutrition for the bird sold. Benefits of participation in MAP include access to information, record keeping forms and model contracts for a variety of agreements (deposit, sale, handfeeding, boarding, breeding loans and consignment). Greater benefits, such as access to surplus stock from public zoos, including several major US zoos, are also available to MAP participants. [106]


[1] Evidence, p. RRA&T 114.

[2] Submission No. 88, p. 4.

[3] Evidence, p. RRA&T 406.

[4] Submission No. 195, p. 19. Note: the AVA endorsed the submission sent by the QCBS.

[5] Evidence, p. RRA&T p. 495, Submission No. 195, p. 5. Note: some exotic species may also be in greater numbers in Australian aviaries than they are in their native habitat (Evidence, p. RRA&T 121).

[6] Evidence, p. RRA&T 255.

[7] Approved institutions and approved zoological organisations are those which are declared as such by instrument of the 'Designated Authority' and published in the Gazette.

[8] For more information about NEBRS see, or Email to:

[9] Submission No. 195, p. 4.

[10] For species with no sex related differences in plumage, sex determination is made difficult by the fact that their reproductive organs are entirely internal.

[11] Evidence, p. RRA&T 407, 496.

[12] Submission No. 59, p. 1; see also Evidence, p. RRA&T 405.

[13] Evidence, p. RRA&T 256.

[14] Submission No. 181.

[15] Evidence, p. RRA&T 497-9.

[16] Evidence, p. RRA&T 424-5.

[17] Evidence, p. RRA&T 527.

[18] Evidence, p. RRA&T 532.

[19] Evidence, p. RRA&T 534.

[20] Evidence, p. RRA&T 208.

[21] Evidence, p. RRA&T 505. See also evidence given by Mr Raymond Hoser (Evidence, p. RRA&T 1037) and Mr Bill Zingleman (Evidence, p. RRA&T 258), both of whom have spent a considerable amount of time and money tracking smuggling operations which have involved, among other things, native birds.

[22] Evidence, p. RRA&T 527-8.

[23] Evidence, p. RRA&T 699.

[24] See for example, Evidence, p. RRA&T 502.

[25] Evidence, p. RRA&T 505.

[26] Evidence, pp. RRA&T 496-7, 521, 527.

[27] Evidence, p. RRA&T 122.

[28] Submission No. 181, p. 2.

[29] Submission No.12, p. 4.

[30] Evidence, pp. RRA&T 115, 122,

[31] Submission No. 341, p. 1.

[32] Evidence, p. RRA&T 124.

[33] Evidence, p. RRA&T 42-3.

[34] Evidence, p. RRA&T 1203.

[35] Evidence, p. RRA&T 556.

[36] Submission No. 87, p. 11.

[37] Submission No. 88, p. 4.

[38] Submission No. 318, p. 20.

[39] Submission No. 314, p. 10, Evidence, p. RRA&T 925.

[40] A Trial Management Program for the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhychus banksii) in the Northern Territory of Australia, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, February 1997.

[41] Evidence, p. RRA&T 181.

[42] Vardon, M., Noske, R. and Moyle, B. 1997 Harvesting black cockatoos in the Northern Territory: catastrophe or conservation? Australian Biologist 10(1):84-93.

[43] Submission No. 57, attached letter from Ms Lindy Stacker, on behalf of Australians Against the Commercialisation of Wildlife, to Mr Stephen Ward, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, dated 4 November 1996.

[44] Submission No. 181, p. 3.

[45] Evidence, p. RRA&T 1206-8.

[46] Evidence, p. RRA&T 122, Submission No. 195, p. 6.

[47] Evidence, p. RRA&T 115.

[48] Evidence, p. RRA&T 123-4. The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia does not support the Northern Territory proposal on the basis that no country has ever been able to successfully regulate the trapping and trading of live birds as cage birds (Submission No. 301, p. 3).

[49] Submission No. 105, p. 3.

[50] Evidence, p. RRA&T 409.

[51] Submission No. 79, p. 3.

[52] Submission No. 87, p. 13.

[53] Evidence, p. RRA&T 255.

[54] Including the Northern Territory Cockatoo Breeding and Research Centre (Submission No. 59) and the Northern Territory Parrot Breeding and Export Centre (Submission No. 105).

[55] Of the 50 birds taken, over 98 % were successfully used for breeding; the other 2% was not used because of an excess of male birds (Submission No. 59, p. 1.).

[56] A Trial Management Program for the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) in the Northern Territory of Australia, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, February 1997.

[57] Submission No. 195, p. 14.

[58] Evidence, p. RRA&T 499.

[59] Evidence, p. RRA&T 486.

[60] Submission No. 329, p. 3.

[61] Evidence, p. RRA&T 521.

[62] Submission No. 195, p. 15; Evidence, p. RRA&T 521.

[63] Evidence, p. RRA&T 532, but see Evidence, p. RRA&T 663.

[64] Submission No. 329, p. 4.

[65] For example, Mr Phil Reader of the Northern Territory Cockatoo Breeding and Research Centre, stated in evidence to the Committee that a pair of red-tailed black cockatoos had sold in 1996 for $5,000 but that the market had dropped considerably since then. A hooded parrot, endemic to the Northern Territory, had been worth more than $500 in 1994 but were now worth about $60 a pair. Evidence, p. RRA&T 411.

[66] Evidence, p. RRA&T 495.

[67] Evidence, p. RRA&T 406.

[68] Evidence, p. RRA&T 120, 408; Submission No. 341, p. 1. The AFA notes that recently a plane load of Alpacas were freighted from South America, through Australian quarantine for unit prices less than those for black cockatoos.

[69] Evidence, p. RRA&T 496.

[70] Submission No. 181, p. 2.

[71] Evidence, p. RRA&T 115.

[72] Evidence, p. RRA&T 114.

[73] Including the AVA (as cited in Submission No. 195, p. 6); See also Submission No.s 59 & 183.

[74] Evidence, p. RRA&T 114, 412, 542.

[75] Evidence, p. RRA&T 426, 493, 508.

[76] Evidence, p. RRA&T 115-6.

[77] Submission No. 195, p. 5.

[78] Evidence, p. RRA&T 115.

[79] Submission No. 195, pp. 19-21.

[80] RIRDC 1997 Sustainable Economic Use of Native Australian Birds and Reptiles - Can controlled trade improve conservation overseas species? Summary of a report of the same name by ACIL Economics Pty Ltd in conjunction with Agriculture Western Australia, RIRDC Research Paper Series No. 97/26, pp. 111-112.

[81] Evidence, p. RRA&T 529.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Submission No. 187, p. 1.

[84] The Victorian group, Freedom for Birds, for example, has the aim of persuading people not to keep birds as pets. The organisation surveys retail outlets for compliance with the Victoria Code of Practice for the Display and Keeping of birds. While the group argues that caging deprives birds of one of their most basic needs (to fly), it is opposed to the freeing of caged birds on the basis that this action further promotes the trade because the freed bird is quickly replaced. In addition, freed birds are vulnerable to predation and stress, and there is a risk of altering the genetic purity of wild populations. Instead, the group offers a resettlement option where caged birds can be taken to a much larger aviary and housed with other birds of its type. Source: 'Any Cage is too Small for a Bird', Margaret Berryman, Animal Liberation Magazine Oct-Nov 1991, pp 4-5.

[85] Evidence, p. RRA&T 154; see also ANZFAS Submission No. 178, pp. 20-21.

[86] In evidence to the Committee, the Native Bird Liberation Alliance acknowledged that the arguments had been taken from information supplied by TRAFFIC Inc.

[87] See also Evidence, p. RRA&T 540.

[88] See also Evidence, p. RRA&T 717.

[89] Submission No. 57, Evidence, p. RRA&T 713ff.

[90] Submission No. 181, p. 4; However, on this matter the AFA wrote: 'There are two recent court cases in NSW:

(NSW NP&WS vs Neville Connors (Grafton); and NSW NP&WS vs William Connor (Hunter Valley)). In the first instance it would appear that there were significant flaws in the taking of evidence and the expert witness used by the prosecution was totally discredited – the case was dismissed. The second case continues but there appear to be similarities in the ability of New South Wales NP&WS to take evidence correctly.' (Submission No. 341, p. 2).

[91] Submission No. 181, p. 4.

[92] Submission No. 181, p. 4.

[93] Evidence, p. RRA&T 1202; evidence of this was also given by Mr Frank Dal Piva of DENR who stated in evidence that some 50 new species of birds have appeared in Australia over the last seven years (Evidence, p. RRA&T 546).

[94] Submission No. 181, p. 4.

[95] Submission No. 308, p. 12.

[96] See also Evidence, p. RRA&T 1210 and Submission No. 301, attachment South Australian Ornithological Association Newsletter June 1984.

[97] See also Submission No.s 57, 181 (p. 2), Evidence, p. RRA&T 1201.

[98] The NBLA quoted in oral evidence to the Committee that in 1989 in England, mortality of trapped wild birds in transit and quarantine was between 15 and 100% (Evidence, p. RRA&T 715).

[99] See also Supplementary Submission No. 308 for a lengthy discussion of the statistics on bird mortality in transit.

[100] Submission No. 195, pp. 7-8.

[101] Submission No. 195, p. 10.

[102] See also Submission No. 301, attachment South Australian Ornithological Association Newsletter June 1984.

[103] Evidence, p. RRA&T 195, p. 10.

[104] Evidence, p. RRA&T 195, p. 19-21.

[105] Information taken from a brochure supplied by Gene Science, E-mail:

[106] The Model Aviculture Program (MAP) 1 August 1996, Laurella Desborough, Model Aviculture Program, PO Box 1657 Martinez CA 94553, USA.