Proposed law change has bird lovers in a flap | PHOTOS

A BORDER bird lover is concerned by changes proposed by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Under the plans, 37 exotic bird species would be classified as pests in a bid to protect the agricultural sector.

The DEPI said the species could still be kept in private collections, but there may also be federal changes to which birds could be brought into the country.

Ebden resident Robert Hawkins, who owns 14 exotic birds, said he and other bird owners were “panicking”.

“We’re just terribly worried that we’re going to be restricted in some shape or form,” he said.

“Experts say aviary-bred birds can’t survive in the wild; they haven’t been taught how to get food out in the wild.

“There’s no known colony of escaped birds in Australia.”

Mr Hawkins owns several birds on the DEPI list, including peachfaced lovebirds, mandarin ducks, blue-and-gold macaws and hyacinth macaws.

Victorian Agricultural Council president David Renshaw said the changes could have a significant impact on the bird breeding and keeping industry.

Lloyd Marshall, who publishes Talking Birds magazine, said he did not understand why the DEPI wanted to make the changes.

“It will diminish the price of birds so fewer people will breed and keep them,” he said.

“I asked why we needed this ban and no one could answer that.”

But a DEPI spokesman said birds in captivity would not be affected and the changes would not affect which species could be kept.

“DEPI is proposing that only the feral or wild populations of certain exotic bird species be declared as prohibited, controlled and regulated pest animals under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994,” the spokesman said.

“The purpose of declaring species under the act is so DEPI is legally able to manage species that are, or have the potential to be, a threat to primary production, crown land, the environment or community health.

“Only the feral or wild populations of those species deemed to pose an extreme or serious threat are proposed for declaration.”