Canada should not be a stopover for the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade
Take action by signing House of Commons petition e-3015 calling on the federal government to end the international and domestic trade of exotic birds and other wild animals.
"When I first heard about this very random opportunity to witness the passing through of a shipment of wild caught parrots, with “apparently approved” import permits, I felt compelled to volunteer and to check on their well-being. Little did we know what we would discover. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was just the tip of the iceberg.” Dr. Nadine Meyer
We were shocked and extremely disappointed to see a recent CTV news report on a shipment of 59 wild-caught parrots and toucans from Guyana that was able to enter Canada and be subsequently shipped from Toronto to Vancouver and onto Japan. Canadian airport and government staff allowed this to happen despite reports that the exporter did not have proper permits and the birds were observed to be in poor health without adequate food and water.
Dr. Nadine Meyer, a veterinarian with a special interest in birds volunteered to go to the airport on December 1, 2020 to feed the birds. What she observed was heartbreaking:
“When we arrived at the airport to feed the birds, we were appalled, saddened and concerned to find one bird dead and another bird housed in the adjacent crate looking very sick. The sick looking bird, who also had a beak defect, was subdued, not reacting to external stimuli, and was clinging on to his perch with the last bit of energy and life it had. Undoubtedly the latter bird was deemed unfit for further transport from a veterinarian’s and welfare perspective. Additionally more than half of the birds in the shipment were not supplied with enough food for the excessively long duration of this transport had we not agreed to feed them on their last stop before departing to Japan. The concerns and recommendations we had were promptly reported to the district CFIA veterinarian. It’s disappointing that it needed a group of volunteers to uncover the welfare and public health concerns, as well as the illegal status of this shipment and depicts the inadequate surveillance of live animal transports within Canada,” says Dr. Meyer.
“After learning that this shipment lacked import permits, the officials should have ordered a full seizure in my opinion. At a minimum the bird suffering from illness should have been provided with the appropriate veterinary care and the dead bird should have been submitted for a necropsy and specific testing to ensure public safety especially in consideration that at least 7 people had been in direct contact with the crates.”
Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director at World Animal Protection has been researching Canada's role in the wildlife trade:
“These birds would have suffered immensely on a gruelling journey likely lasting more than 40 hours. It paints a picture of what life is like for the millions of wild animals that are traded through our country every year to be used as exotic pets.”
Canada imported more than 320,000 wild animals in 2019, and about 80% of these animals were destined for the exotic pet trade. “This incident highlights the inadequacy of Canada’s federal regulatory and enforcement system in curbing the wildlife trade to reduce the risk to animals, people and the planet.” Matlow added.
Pictured: One of the five Channel Billed Toucans in the shipment at Vancouver International Airport.
Pictured: A crate containing 10 Yellow Crowned Amazons from the shipment at Vancouver International Airport.
Pictured: One of the 18 Black Necked Aracaris from the shipment at Vancouver International Airport. This picture depicts the dire food situation many of the parrots were in.
World Animal Protection has contacted the Federal Ministers and government inspection authorities responsible for overseeing the wildlife trade demanding answers as to why these birds weren’t seized and if the exporter would be penalized for inhumane transport and not having proper permits.
Wild birds suffer greatly during capture, handling and transport and research shows that mortality can be very high. They also harbour a number of pathogens. Close human contact with wild birds can lead to the transmission of Avian influenza, Psittacosis and other diseases impacting people. EU, Australia and the US have restricted the trade of wild birds for such reasons. It’s time for Canada to do its part to curb the trade in birds and other wild animals to prevent disease risk, animal cruelty and species extinction.