PLF sues to free golden parakeet from ESA captivity
July 20, 2017
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL; July 20, 2017: Pacific Legal Foundation today sued federal regulators for failing to act on a formal petition to recognize the recovery of the golden parakeet (also known as the golden conure) and to remove it from Endangered Species Act (ESA) coverage.
PLF represents, free of charge, the organization that submitted the delisting petition — the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA). AFA filed its petition in August, 2014, citing published scientific estimates that the bird’s population has increased from as few as 1,000 after its listing to as many as 20,000 birds today. In April, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responded with a finding that the petition presented a credible case for delisting. Although the agency was required by law to follow up on that finding within 12 months, it has been illegally dragging its feet and has failed to issue a final decision on whether or not to delist.
“Regulators are sticking their heads in the sand by failing to formally acknowledge the golden parakeet’s recovery,” said PLF attorney Christina Martin. “Their ostrich act not only undermines the rule of law, it also harms the species itself. Breeders have helped preserve and protect the species, but ESA restrictions inhibit their valuable work. It is time to free the golden parakeet — and the breeders who are its greatest benefactors — from the captivity of unnecessary federal regulations.”
Under current regulations, an owner must get an ESA “take” permit to sell the bird across state lines. AFA’s petition asked for either outright delisting, or, in the alternative, downlisting to “threatened” and exempting U.S. owners of golden parakeets from the onerous, unjustified, and counterproductive ESA permit requirements.
“Federal regulations make it very difficult for breeders to maintain a genetically diverse flock of golden conures and to sell them to other breeders or members of the public,” said AFA member and golden parakeet breeder Nancy Speed. “Permits sometimes take more than a year just to allow the sale of one captive-bred bird to another reputable breeder. These limits do not make any sense and have caused me to breed fewer of these beautiful birds.”
AFA is a nonprofit national organization, established in 1974 to represent all aspects of aviculture and educate the public about keeping and breeding birds in captivity. It supports public and private programs that encourage conservation of birds in the wild as well as humane husbandry, care, and breeding of birds. It also represents the interests of more than 10,000 members, including bird breeders, pet bird owners, veterinarians, pet store owners, bird product manufacturers, and many others who are interested in the health and flourishing of bird species and aviculture.
AFA members own and maintain hundreds of separate species of exotic birds, including golden conures. Many AFA members are experts with long-term, hands-on experience with various species of birds.
“Aviculturists serve an important role in the preservation of birds,” said AFA President Jamie Whittaker. “In some cases, breeders are the key to the long-term survival of species at risk for extinction in their native lands. The federal government should stop hindering their important work.”
“Federal officials have a legal duty to monitor and update the status of protected species, and to fully respond to credible delisting petitions,” said PLF President and CEO Steven Anderson. “When they fail to do so, PLF will call them to account, as part of our mission to promote a responsible, balanced approach to environmental regulations, and to uphold the rule of law.”
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.