EDITORIAL PAGE It Seems to Me ...


Things are changing so
quickly that I'm having trouble
keeping up in these bimonthly
editorials. For several years now,
the Federal Government has been
intent on heaping more and more
burdensome regulations onto the
backs of an already overburdened
populace. This "Big Brother" attitude
has been prevalent in every
aspect of life from taxes and
health care to the merest keeping
of a few birds in one's backyard
aviary. There are a few powerful
persons in high places who feel
they know what is best for us
"little folk" whether we like it or
not. To say nothing of all the other
problems in the world, there are
those dedicated ARFs (Animal
Rights Fanatics) who have their
own agenda that they wish to impose
upon the rest of us. (Indeed,
I have a dear misguided vegetarian
friend who is appalled at the highfat
high-fried ethnic diet that
prevails in our neighborhood.
She'd force health food upon the
neighbors for their own good if
she knew how.) The ARFs have
had a pretty good show lately because
so many elected officials in
government have had the same
feeling that they "know what's
best" for us.
Now, it seems to me, the worm
has turned. We little folk have spoken
out against big government
cradle-to-grave control of our
lives. Why in the world, when
such control has proven a failure
in every other country, do some
of our leaders feel it would work
here in the U.S.A.? I don't know
just where the new Congress will
take us, and we'll have to keep
an eye on them just as we did
the previous Congress, but I get
the feeling that the current Congress
wants to lighten the number 

of dumb, restrictive regulations that now harass the ordinary folks.

We have long been in a damage control mode with regards to legislation affecting our birds. Some of you may not know it but the AF A has always been opposed to additional unnecessary and burdensome regulations. Perhaps you don't remember when (in the early 1970's) the U.S. Department of Agriculture was invading local California aviaries and ruthlessly putting all birds, exotic, pet and even endangered species into the mobile gas chambers. News photos showed piles of rare birds that had been gassed and heaped up. The government's policy of total depopulation was devastating emotionally and economically. The Exotic Newcastle's disease that touched off the murderous frenzy was eventually controlled without such drastic measures.

But it was the AFA's lawsuit against USDA that finally resulted in the making of a better policy. What? You didn't know the AFA sued the Feds? And prevailed? It was the beginning of a 20 year relationship that has had its ups and downs. The past few years have been downers. It seems to me, though, that the time is now ripe for some improvement. The Feds now seem more inclined to listen to the people rather than to a few special interest groups (ARFs, if you will).

One major concern right now is that the avicultural community remain united and uniform in the effort to ameliorate or eliminate lousy legislation. There are many facets of the bird fancy that may seem to be independent from one another or unconcerned about bad laws that seem to affect just the other person. There are bird fanciers who have just a few backyard birds for aesthetic pleasure; commercial breeders with huge farms who raise birds specifically to sell at a profit; pet stores that carry birds; veterinarians who have large avian practices; canary breeders; pigeon breeders and racers; ratite farmers; zoos, large and small; growers of bird seed and manufacturers of other commercial bird food; cage, wire and equipment manufacturers; the list is almost endless. All of these peo-


ple depend to a degree upon a healthy bird fancy. What affects the breeder will, somewhere down the line, affect all the others involved. In truth, we are all united in the wish to see a strong, healthy bird fancy that is as prosperous for the birds as it is for the bird keepers.

I know that there are a few small items of disagreement among various contingents of the fancy. What I suggest here is that we rise above these petty differences and unite in our efforts to get rid of bad legislation but also to promote professional standards within our own industry. Simple items like to hybridize or not or whether a cage is six feet long or eight should not put us at one another's throats. (Within your own club, I suppose, it is still OK to backstab and throatcut over important things like whether donuts or chocolate cakes were served, but lets keep that stuff in-house.) As far as I know, every aviculturist still has the right to operate their facility as they choose, providing they don't violate the basic humane and smuggling laws already on the books.

Because the AFA has a long and productive track record fighting for and protecting the individual's rights to keep and breed birds, it has gained the prominent position in this effort. The AF A is the major grass roots avicultural organization recognized by the government as representing the interests of the bird fancy. Like it or not, the AF A has that distinction and, I might add, has earned it-often before many of you possessed even one bird. There are a number of additional clubs and societies that also represent large portions of aviculture. The wisest course suggests that these groups communicate and harmonize on the best actions to take in the effort to promote good aviculture and to get rid of the dumb, counter-productive regulations that work to the detriment of the world's birds.

Take my word for it, the ARFs are reading these very words. Their aim is to divide and conquer us. If we keep a united front, we'll prevail. If we fragment, we'll fail.