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www.regulations.gov (APHIS-2020-0068)

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PETITION TARGET: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

UPDATE (2/20/2023):  The USDA has announced its final rule, which offers some protections for birds not bred for research. As published in the Federal Register, changes include revisions for water, electric power, space requirements, environmental enrichment, and delayed transports, and carriers and intermediary handlers aren’t allowed to accept unweaned birds for transport without express permission from a veterinarian. The final rule is applicable to current USDA licensees starting Aug. 21, and new licensees must comply by Feb. 21, 2024. While this is positive progress for birds, the final rule falls short of our ask for additional protections that would ensure bird welfare.  Thank you to everyone who signed our petition, and we will continue to advocate for birds and all animals. — Lady Freethinker Staff


Right now, animal breeders, exhibitors and dealers can hold wild birds in filthy, tiny cages with no food or water, and face zero penalties from the government.

Newly proposed regulations could change that.

Following lawsuits from animal welfare groups, the USDA has pitched a proposal that would require commercial industries to provide birds with nutritious and species-specific food, potable water, shelter from weather extremes, a pest-free environment, species-specific lighting, enclosures with flooring that won’t harm their feet, veterinary care when required, enrichment to promote psychological health, and access to water suitable for swimming for wading and aquatic birds.

These proposed protections are welcome, but birds deserve more. The regulations still allow pinioning – or removing a bird’s wing joint, so the poor animal can’t fly – as well as other mutilations people request for purely aesthetic or behavioral reasons, such as toe clipping, devoicing, or cutting birds’ beaks. There also are no limits on the amount of time birds can be kept tethered, and scientists would still be permitted to cut open birds in the wild, collect their blood, and perform other invasive procedures.

Wild birds don’t belong in cages in the first place — but those who are forced into captivity at least deserve to live free from torture.

Sign our petition urging the USDA to pass the majority of its proposed changes, while also strengthening protections by limiting the time that birds can be tethered, requiring that they be able and allowed to fly, and prohibiting cosmetic mutilations and contact between exhibited birds and members of the public.

Then, take a moment to also send the USDA your own personalized comment supporting the changes – and additional protections–  by either of the following methods:

  • Federal Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov. Enter APHIS-2020-0068 in the Search field. Select the Documents tab, then select the Comment button in the list of documents.
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2020-0068, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

The deadline to make your voice heard is now May 25, with the changes likely to go into effect in 2023.