More than 100 bird store owners protested against the Forestry Bureau yesterday, unhappy about an amendment to the Regulations Governing Commercial Wildlife Raising and Breeding (營利性野生動物飼養繁殖管理辦法), which they say threatens to put more than 1,000 shops out of business.
Meanwhile, animal right activists asked the Council of Agriculture (COA) to stand firm on the stricter regulations.
The amendment demands wildlife sellers turn in a management plan on how they would raise, breed and sell the animals. When applying for permission to breed and sell wildlife, they must also submit a plan and an affidavit to show how they would handle the animals, should the business close or be suspended.
Meanwhile, wildlife sellers must prove the origin of the animals and how they are purchased, and are they banned from selling newborn or unhealthy wildlife. People violating the rules are to be fined NT$60,000 to NT$300,000 (US$ 1,976 to US$9,880).
Taiwan Ornamental Bird Association chairman Huang Deng-ke (黃登科) said the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) has been enforced for 25 years, but the council has never issued a certificate for legal sources of wildlife.
“The Forestry Bureau suddenly changed the regulations last month without stipulating any complementary measure to help operators transition. It really caught us off guard,” Huang said.
Hoca Nice Enterprise Co chairman Lee Chun-rong (李俊榮) said the nation has about 20,000 to 30,000 illegal breeding grounds. Aside from filing for application, he said that the amended regulations would require wildlife sellers to build breeding grounds on farmland and also construct sewage systems.
Wildlife sellers will go out of business if they are not allowed to capture wildlife themselves, Lee said.
However, Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) director Chen Yu-ming (陳玉敏) argued that the bird store owners were in a hurry to negotiate a way out of the situation because they cannot prove that their animals have been acquired through legal sources.
“Birds that we often see in shops, such as red turtle doves or spotted-necked dove, can only be hunted in restricted areas. Hunters must first have legal permits before they are allowed to capture these birds, according to act,” she said.
“However, the market for wildlife has been a mess for so long that birds are mostly captured and sold illegally,” she added.
Chen said the amendment should have gone further. The wildlife sellers, she said, should also indicate the sizes of the cages or the places in which they intend to raise animals while they apply for permits.
The wildlife sellers must also be barred from mating animals that are genetically close, she said, adding that the government should have the mandate to inspect and penalize the businesses to ensure compliance.