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Animal Welfare: Wild Birds

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why, in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedule 4) (England) Order 2008 (SI 2008/2356), they have reduced from 50 to nine the number of species of wild birds that, if kept in captivity, have to be registered and ringed; and what controls now exist on persons keeping wild birds in captivity. [HL1251]

In 2006 Defra held a public consultation on the bird registration scheme (Schedule 4 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) to investigate the regulatory burden the scheme places on bird keepers. The key motivation behind the review was to ensure that the scheme was targeted at those species most at risk and to reduce the bureaucracy and costs placed on legitimate keepers and traders of birds.

Species of wild birds that are listed in Schedule 4 may be kept in captivity only if specimens are certified by a vet as being unfit to return to the wild. Presently and historically, the majority of Schedule 4 birds kept in captivity are captive bred and very few birds registered have been wild taken.

The reverse burden of proof contained in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 means that it is an offence to possess a wild bird unless a person can show that it was legally acquired.