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Aviculture & Legislation

As your legislative liaison, I will notify you of any pending legislation I know or come across. We would like you to respond to said legislation after reading it and making the decision as to what you believe. At no point will I ask you to vote as I do, I will always ask for people to read the regulation/law and make up their own mind. Most of the time there won’t be sample letters, especially for local and state issues. At times we will have sample letters for you to use and alter if you agree with them. For most national issues there will be another national organization such as the Avicultural Society of America or the American Federation of Aviculture to assist in the letter writing campaign.

Now for the truth of the local issues. Most of the time for issues concerning city, county and state before the regulation/law is proposed the “authors” pretty much know they have the votes to pass the issue. That is why it is called being “reactive,” because that is exactly what we are doing! We still want your input to let the “law makers” know there is opposition to what is being proposed.

I don’t know how many were at the AFA legislative get together that Brent Gattis & Genny Wall put on Saturday night. At this meeting Brent introduced fellow AFA member Louis “Buddy” Waskey from Virginia who helped the AFA get a law passed to deal with an endangered species regulation in that state. They were talking about needing to be proactive and it was! It appears AFA/ASA will become more proactive with the help of their members and affiliates. But don’t take the attitude, “I don’t have to do anything because AFA/ASA will do it,” these organizations are only as good as their members make them!!

What do aviculturists and “animal people” need to do? In our case as the NFSS we need to get back into the “local club business.” We need to be joining clubs even if they are mostly “parrot oriented.” Why? To let everyone know that birds of a feather flock together – that finches and softbills are just as liked as their parrots. Aviculturists need to stick together whether they are interested in parrots, finches, softbills, or game birds. If clubs don’t exist in your area, start one. Even if there are only a hand full of people in it, when word gets out there will be more. By doing this you can keep track of local and state regulations/laws being proposed and react accordingly.

Bird Clubs of Virginia (comprised of 4 local bird organizations) have a get together about birds every year. All the talks are concerning parrot species. When asked why the answer was, “the local clubs are comprised only of people keeping parrots.” I asked myself, “Are there no finch people in that area?” If there are why haven’t they made themselves known to the other bird clubs of Virginia? It is a shame the BCOV may disband I am told as of the first of the year due to a lack of support.

Along with local clubs, be sure to join AFA/ASA and support them also – they have excellent legislative people.

Now let’s get down to what the “average aviculturist” can do to promote aviculture in their local community/government.

  1. Get to know your local representative, city council person, county supervisors, state congressional and senate representative (always remember all these folks are your representative in place to serve their constituents).
  2. Get to know personnel working in your local planning departments, commissions.
  3. Attend city and county meetings – especially “planning” commission meetings!

Let these people know you’re an aviculturist and proud of it! Let them know that children who are involved in animal husbandry will most likely become very responsible people. Why? Because they have learned how to be by caring for their animals. Try to get “ordinances” changed by dealing with the above people.

What we did in Placer County (Northern California) for Zoning Ordnance 17.56.050 “Animal Raising and Keeping” was give talks to local groups of people about what we were doing. Examples of audiences: retirement homes, boy/girl scouts, schools, FFA, and 4H. Some of our audience members were future aviculturists. When we cause more of the general public to become aware of what aviculture is the less likely we will have push back when others push to work on changing ordinances/laws!

Legislation – today it is as much a part of aviculture as breeding birds! If you don’t believe me see what happens if they make regulations/laws prohibiting it!

Roland Cristo
Legislative Liaison