Target: United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Goal: Restrict the pet parrot trade to protect parrots from abandonment
Large parrots such as the African Grey and the cockatoo have proved themselves to be highly intelligent, greatly affectionate animals, with one famous individual demonstrating the ability to understand and communicate through speech. They are also some of the most difficult birds to care for. Loud, messy, and possessing a formidable intelligence, these animals often prove too much to handle
Parrots are social animals, and bond deeply with owners, but they are undomesticated, wild animals and exhibit behaviors that make them extremely difficult to take care of. They need constant companionship, and their bonds with owners are so intense that they can grow anxious when left alone. Anxiety can manifest in screaming, feather-plucking, aggression, and self-mutilation, and is one of the main reasons for abandonment. Rehoming abandoned parrots—often traumatized by separation, and typically exhibiting behavior problems—is made harder by the commitment these birds require.
Because they are so intelligent, parrots must also have enough mental stimulation to keep from getting bored. They are curious and destructive, and can wreak havoc on a home when bored or frustrated. They are also very loud, with voices designed to carry for miles, and can cause disruptions.
Lack of education is perhaps one of the biggest issues. Those who purchase parrots frequently do not know just what they are getting into, or are unprepared for the behavioral changes and problems that these undomesticated birds have. As a result, they are abandoned by frustrated owners, passed around from home to home, or placed in overburdened sanctuaries. Domestic breeding has led to mass overpopulation; there are simply too many unwanted birds with nowhere to turn.
Finally, the bird trade has had a devastating impact on wild populations. Parrots already face pressure from deforestation and habitat loss, but the pet trade placed huge demand on struggling birds. Birds are wild-caught or taken from nests and sold to owners that may have no idea how to care these animals.
Too often parrots end up abandoned or in subpar conditions because captivity cannot meet their social or mental needs. The United States government must take action to end breeding of captive parrots and restrict the pet trade.
Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,
Captive parrots are facing an increasing crisis. These intelligent, social animals are undomesticated, and affectionate and loving as they can be, they are immensely difficult to properly care for. Many end up surrendered to overburdened sanctuaries because of behavioral problems brought about by stress, and others mutilate themselves, become highly aggressive, or tear out their own feathers. Their long lifespans and intelligence require a huge commitment that many owners cannot undertake.
Wild populations are also at risk from the pet trade, with poaching of babies and adults to meet demands.
I ask you to take action to restrict breeding of pet parrots and enact stricter nationwide regulations—including licensing measures—to ensure they are given to homes that can care for them. We cannot continue to sell these birds without measures to protect them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Aviceda via Wikimedia Commons