Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Traveling To Scotland With A Conure


I have just read your article online, thank you for making it
available; I found it very informative.

I own a seven year old green cheek conure. I am moving from the
United States to Scotland where I am getting married and settling
down. I am not willing to give him up so I will do whatever I can to
keep him with me.

I have found difficulty trying to get definite answers to questions
concerning my travel with my bird; for example, Continental said he
has to travel in cargo for the 8 hour flight. I am concerned about
the conditions in cargo and his survival as he is only 12 grams.
Edinbourgh airport does not grant entry to birds so it seems I have to
go through London, where they will quarantine him for 30 days which I
am afraid he will not survive well.

I am willing to fly to another country and then take the train into
the UK if that would work. I have heard of people doing that with
cats and dogs to avoid quarantine. Do you have any suggestions for
me? I would appreciate any information you can provide.

Thank you so much for your help.

Dear Taryn:

Thank you for your email. What you are reading on that website is about traveling in the United States with birds. Not taking the bird out of the country on international flights. That is because it is extremely difficult, time consuming, expensive and every country has their own rules about importing birds. It is not the airlines polices you have to deal with, it’s Federal, international and European Union, as well as the United Kingdom's (and quite possibly the government of Scotland as well) laws you have to deal with.

Generally speaking, most species of birds (other than budgies and cockatiels) are NOT domesticated animals but are considered wild animals and because many species are rare and endangered, they are not regulated like dogs and cats. The EU, just like the US, has a policy that prohibits the import of wild-caught parrots. You will have to prove to the EU as well as Scotland (and perhaps the UK) that the bird was legally captive-bred in the US. I have no idea what they require for that designation but I do know that the US does NOT recognize a leg band nor a microchip or even a bill of sale as 'proof' a bird was legally bred in the US. You will need to contact the EU and Scotland about that. I will say not having the proper paperwork or attempting to bring the bird in under the radar of the authorities is called 'smuggling'. Smuggling a bird into a country is a very serious and very dangerous international crime and in the US, it is punishable by YEARS in Federal prison.

You will need to go through US Fish and Wildlife. They will give you the application for the export (US) and CITES (international) permits as well as the arrangements for issuance of health certificates and inspections. This costs a lot of money and can take longer than 6 months. You will also need to get import permits from Scotland as well as possibly the UK and the EU. I have no idea what their requirements are but if they require quarantine (and almost all countries do in order to keep out poultry diseases as well as N5N1 bird flu) you will be required to place the bird there and pay for its keep as well as veterinary inspections. Again, trying to get around this requirement may cause you to be arrested and charged with international wildlife smuggling.

As for the airlines, ALL airlines follow the IATA guidelines and ALL birds MUST travel in the cargo hold. This isn't a problem if the bird is in the proper container and has food and a source of water. I ship parrotlets which are one of the world's smallest species of birds at 28 grams (and btw, there is no way ANY conure weighs 12 grams) and is smaller than half of your conure's tail without any ill effects all over the country including Alaska. Besides, back in the day when the US DID import wild caught birds these birds were captured, trekked out of the jungle, placed in holding facilities that were less than ideal and then shipped to the US from South America (in the case of your conures predecessors) and tens of thousands of birds arrived safely in the US. In all likelihood, your bird would simply go to sleep during the flight since most birds are used to small enclosed areas and Mother Nature designed them to be quiet in the dark so they don't get eaten by predators.

Anyway, you have a lot of work to get done so I wish you the best of luck. International law is designed to be difficult when it comes to bringing birds around the world. This is a) to protect them in their countries of origin from extinction and b) to protect the human population as well as the human food supply from diseases. But you need to start with USF&W.

Hope this helps and let me know how it goes.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
Secretary, International Parrotlet Society

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