In the afternoon of October 1st 2013, Taiwan SPCA came across a man illegally selling birds in the Xindian area. The man had several red-netted bags on the ground, full of birds. They were not only kept in an overcrowded space, but also situated on the sidewalk without any shade or shelter. As a result, the TSPCA investigation team immediately contacted The New Taipei City Animal Protection Office (APO) and police for further assistance.
The man had a total of 66 birds, amongst which included 60 Red Turtle Doves, 4 Spotted Doves and 2 Starling Birds. Only a few of the birds were provided with food and water and none were given proper shelter from the elements. In fact, they were sitting on the concrete sidewalk right next to heavy traffic, vehicle pollution and noise. However, after a closer look, no serious physical injuries to the birds were found. It was revealed that all 66 birds were crammed together during transportation on the back of a small scooter, which wasn’t equipped to protect the animals from the wind, rain, heat or sunshine.
Upon further inspection TSPCA discovered that the total number of birds in the man’s possession did not match the numbers he provided on his written records, which should also clearly state the origin of the birds. Suspicions grew stronger. Thus, we insisted that New Taipei APO confiscate the two Starling Birds that did not appear in the man’s records. Sadly, in response to our urgent request, the government officials explained that if the vendor could fax proof of the Starlings origin at a later date, he would not be breaking any laws. (To our disappointment, the current method to prove origin New Taipei APO requires is only a hand written receipt. These receipts can be easily altered and do not necessarily prove the species or origin of the animal).
As the vendor’s act of selling captive birds did not violate the Wildlife Conservation Act, the most New Taipei APO could do was to persuade the vendor to provide more appropriate housing for the birds. The Taiwan SPCA strongly addressed the welfare concerns to both the vendor and APO and urged him to comply with the following guidelines: 1) provide a safe environment to reduce the birds’ stress level, 2) provide a more spacious environment and proper shading, 3) provide ample food and clean water 4) utilize proper transport equipment to aid in stress reduction.
TSPCA were strict about the demands as a way to make clear to the vendor that he must provide a higher level of animal welfare for the birds, and to educate him regarding the proper and improper ways to care for the animals. In the end the man was fined $1,200-1,500 NTD for “hindering traffic flow” and conducting illegal business on the street.
The traditional religious beliefs regarding the releasing of captive birds have been an on-going animal welfare issue for some time. The current animal protection laws in Taiwan sadly have many loopholes, therefore the TSPCA works tirelessly with city and county animal protection offices around the island to strengthen the management of vendors such as these.
We strongly urge the public not to purchase captive birds. They are winged animals that belong in the sky and have the right to fly freely. Purchasing captive birds for the sake of fulfilling religious rituals only increases the numbers of captured wildlife, as a higher demand drives a greater supply.
Should you see vendors selling captive birds, please call 110 immediately to report these illegal activities to the local police or inform your local animal protection office. The public always has the right to voice their concern about the welfare issues of illegal and legal animal sales.
Should you come across any suspicious activity regarding the sale of captive birds, please refer to the flow chart below provided by Taipei City APO.
動物保護法 第 5 條: