The Forest Department announces that the application period for the Captive Wildlife Permit program for pet parrots will close on October 31st, 2016. Since the program began, the department received more than 2,000 applications and registered over 300

parrots already. Hundreds of parrots were rehabilitated and returned to the wild when inspections revealed that: (a) the parrots were found to be less than one-year old and; (b) bird owners failed to meet strict compliance standards.

Parrots represent the largest group of captive wild animals in Belize. Thousands of wild birds have been and continue to be illegally captured and traded on the domestic and international market to meet the demand for the pet trade. This has devastating impacts on Belize’s parrot species population, particularly the scarlet macaw and yellow-headed parrots now threatened by extinction due to habitat loss and illegal capturing.

The Department reveals that while it has been customarily practiced to keep birds as pets, the public needs to become aware of the negative impacts this practice has on both species and humans. Apart from the species population being threatened due to the pet trade, birds in captivity often suffer from malnutrition, unsuitable environment, isolation, and the stress of confinement. In the wild, parrots can live up to 90 years and produce 18 to 72 offspring, maintaining healthy species populations. In contrast, when in captivity, most parrots live for only five years and have no offspring. For humans, wild-bird captivity exposes humans to diseases. Birds are carriers of germs that can cause a variety of

illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses, such as parrot fever, avian tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal bacterial infections. These are only a few of the reasons why wild-bird captivity is often discouraged.

Under the Wildlife Protection Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, any person found capturing, exporting, importing, hunting, killing, or molesting any wildlife species can serve imprisonment

and/or fines. Consequently, the Forest Department warns that with the approaching end of the parrot registration program, they have stepped-up enforcement to capture those who continue such illegal practices.

The Department welcomes the support and assistance of the general public. Report any illegal forest activities to the Forest Department at 822-1524.