Animal Aid

BAN THE BIRD MARKET - Join our campaign!

Posted 1 December 2003
Demo at Solihull

The following article about the NEC wild bird market is taken from the Winter 2003 edition of Outrage, our quarterly magazine which is sent to all Animal Aid members. To find out more about joining Animal Aid click here.

As we go to press, the battle to stop the annual Cage & Aviary Bird Sale - due to take place on 6-7 December at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham - rages on. Despite the wealth of evidence and public feeling against the sale, Solihull Council has dug its heels in and continues to defend its absurd decision to license an illegal event.

The licence allows up to 100,000 exotic birds to be traded. According to a consultant ornithologist who visited last year's event, up to three-quarters of the birds on sale were wild-caught.

Against the law... and a health hazard

A recent magistrate's decision in Bradford (see page 8) adds yet more weight to our argument that the sale of pet animals in public places is unlawful under The Pet Animals Act 1951 (amended 1983). This is the fourth legal precedent of its kind - there have been no interpretations of the law in favour of such events.

Solihull Council is also allowing organisers to press on with plans to stage the market despite the presence of a mystery virus that has wiped out whole collections of captive exotic birds. The Veterinary Laboratories Agency is not yet certain what this virus is, but is advising extreme caution and recommending biosecurity measures that would involve disinfecting anyone coming into contact with the birds. Public and animal health experts also advise that high security quarantine between all exhibitors would be advisable (i.e. no two exhibitors to be in the same room) at the Solihull sale. They suggest further separation by disinfectant dips and numerous other measures that would effectively make the NEC event impossible to run.

Bird market

One of the provisions of the licence is 'that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread among animals of infectious diseases'. Even with the best intention, this clause in the 1951 Pet Animals Act can never be adhered to at pet markets, especially where wild-captured birds are concerned. Cage dust, loose feathers and liquid droplets (surface or airborne) are all capable of spreading a vast array of infections, some from exotic locations that are thought to be pathogenic hot spots.

The council is acting against the law and against accepted scientific advice in siding with wildlife traders and staging an outlawed and dangerous spectacle.

Thanks to our campaigners

A big thank you to everyone who has written to the council and special thanks to ardent local campaigners led by Kevin White and Ursula Bates. They have organised numerous protests outside the council offices, where shoppers have queued to sign petitions. A dedicated network of Midlands supporters has also been carrying out door to door leafleting in Solihull.

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