The following article by Kelly Williams of Pennsylvania is a fine example of what a group of dedicated people can accomplish when they are faced with seemingly overwhelming odds.
In early January 2008 I received emails from several people that it appeared that there was trouble brewing in Pennsylvania. A rumor that had surfaced that there was a proposal to ban the possession of the Nan day Con ure and existing Nandays would not be grandfathered. Obviously, if this rumor was true, there was a problem in Pennsylvania.
My investigation revealed that, indeed, the proposal had been made, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission staff was recommending to the Game Commission that it be adopted. The proposed ban was based on a claim that the Nanday posed a threat to "human health and safety" and "wildlife habitat"and neither of these claims was supported by facts. We understood that if the Nanday could be banned on such unsupported claims, so could any other parrot or other bird be banned. If such a ban could be imposed in Pennsylvania, it would be only a matter of time before such a ban would be enacted in other states. The "domino theory" was at work. Unless we worked fast, the possession of a Nanday Conure in Pennsylvania was soon to become illegal. The rumor had surfaced on January 7, 2008, and the hearing on the proposal was to be held on January 26th~we had only 19 days to organize the troops'
As AFA Legislative Vice President, it is part of my job to ferret out the facts when we hear about these kinds of restrictive animal proposals. If I find a restrictive animal proposal that will negatively affect birds or birdkeepers, I then try to alert the people who are going to be directly impacted by restrictive proposal so they can address the proposal and educate their representatives about birds, birdkeeping, and the impact that the restrictive proposal will have on them. This process worked perfectly in Pennsylvania.
We were able to spread the word about the proposal and when people heard about it they were anxious to get involved to protect the Nanday Conure and other parrots. I issued an email alert on the proposal on January 12th to my email contacts, and they posted and cross-posted the alert to many other people to many on line lists and websites. Thousands of people wrote, called, emailed and faxed the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania legislators. More than 50 people took the time to attend the Game Commission meeting to oppose the ban. Thanks to the work of all involved, the proposal to ban the Nanday Conure in Pennsylvania was defeated. Kelly's article tells us, in excellent detail, how they successfully planned and executed their strategy to protect their birds in Pennsylvania. I want to give a personal "Thank You" to all the people from across the U.S., and even from outside the U.S., who worked so hard to protect the Nanday Conure in Pennsylvania. Each and every one of you who took the time to write, call, email and fax the Pennsylvania representatives and each of you who appeared at the hearing to testify, deserves our thanks. I know our Nanday Conures and all of our birds, thank you, too.
On a less jubilant note, I must remind our readers that while we were successful this year in Pennsylvania, our work to protect our birds is not over. Our work will never be over as long as there are animal activists who want to see the ownership of all exotic animals, including birds, come to an end. Those activists are very busy working at the local, state and federal levels of our governments to make the ownership and possession of exotic animals illegal. We need to be just as active as they are if we are to be able to continue to keep our birds. I invite any of our readers to contact me any time you have a legislative issue or question that you...