The Animal Protection Agency (APA), whom QCA supports, reports that in May they attended a meeting of the British Veterinary Animal Welfare Forum where the majority of delegates voted in favour of a ban on imports of wild-caught reptiles for the pet trade.
Apart from the stress imposed on these creatures, the cruelty of transportation and captivity and the fact that they are usually kept in wholly inadequate conditions by people who usually know little of their needs, there is an irony inherent in this trade in exotics.
Very recently, QCA, in company with other animal advocacy groups, protested against the slaughter of monk parakeets in the Home Counties. These birds did not migrate here of their own volition, they were caught in their native land, imported into Britain by the pet trade, bought, and inadvertently released by the buyers. In spite of our complaints to DEFRA, officials there seem incapable of understanding that the way these birds have settled down and bred successfully is a (perceived) problem they have caused themselves.
The minister responsible at DEFRA, Richard Benyon, states: ‘to simply prohibit all importation of non-native species would have widespread and disproportionate impacts’. It would indeed – on those who make money importing them. The RSPCA is also opposed to these imports. Their document is called ‘Far from home’.
‘An important new study has confirmed the RSPCA’s fears that many internationally protected reptile species – though legally imported into the European Union (EU) – are highly susceptible to husbandry failures and often suffer and die in captivity.’ www.rspca.org.uk
So what is the answer for those who made the mistake of acquiring them? It may be illegal to release non-native species into the wild – as terrapins are increasingly being abandoned in waterways in this country – but exotic animal sanctuaries are already overstretched, as was shown very graphically in a recent TV programme, Essex Jungle.
This ridiculous state of affairs has to end. APA maintains that the exotic pet trade is now wildly out of control and decisive government action is long overdue.
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