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Feb. 22, 1999

Dear American Federation of Aviculture Member,

We wish we could be writing under more favorable circumstances, however we are faced with an immediate threat that could end aviculture. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is being forced to consider adopting new regulations to protect all captive birds under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) which was enacted by Congress in 1966. USDA is not in favor of enforcing additional regulations, and indeed feels this additional burden would jeopardize the protection afforded to other species currently covered under present guidelines. Animal Rights groups opposed to aviculture are not satisfied with the current rules and have sued USDA through the courts to develop stricter regulations on us.

If this happens, regulations would not be so obvious as to simply ban bird ownership. Instead, impossibly high standards could be established, requiring such things as oversized stainless steel caging and separate food preparation areas, which can be used for no other purpose. Although bird ownership would still be legal, for all practical purposes it would be prohibitively expensive. The current AWA budget is insufficient to cover avian species. Therefore, funding of such regulatory efforts would be through expensive licensure or fees.

The USDA has opened a comment period on this issue and is inviting comment from breeders as well as pet owners before March 29th, 1999. It is imperative you let your voice be heard, AFA cannot do this alone. For comments submitted in hard copy, please send an original and three copies to Docket No. 98-106-1, Please state that your comments refer to Docket No. 98-106-1. Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Any person who wishes to submit a comment electronically must use a form located on the Internet at Electronically submitted comments need only be submitted once. These comments are available for public viewing at the same Internet address. This contact information is from the notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday Jan.28th.

Several lower priority AFA projects will be delayed or suspended until this issue is resolved. AFA publications will, however, remain on their usual schedule. In order for AFA to deal with this issue effectively and be the watchbird of aviculture, we need your help now. Please send your tax-deductible contributions to :

P.O. Box 56218
Phoenix, AZ 85079-6218

On behalf of the Board of Directors,
American Federation of Aviculture,

Gary Clifton
American Federation of Aviculture