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Blair letter boosts hopes of bird trade ban

Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken unprecedented action to bolster the RSPB’s campaign for a ban on the EU’s trade in wild birds.

He has written to Graham Wynne, Chief Executive of the RSPB, to say that the government will press the rest of Europe to make permanent the current but temporary ban on wild bird imports.

The letter is a huge boost to the Society’s 20-year long campaign against the trade which has seriously reduced populations of many birds in Asia, Africa and South America.

Parrots are particularly seriously affected including the African grey parrot, the world’s best talking bird.

Graham Wynne, Chief Executive of the RSPB, said: “We are delighted that the UK is taking this position and Mr Blair’s intervention could not be more timely. It is shameful that such an obscene trade has been allowed to continue for so long, when so many birds have died and so few people have benefited.

“At last there is hope that this dark cloud hanging over millions of wild birds may soon be gone. The support of the Government could be crucial in bringing this about.”

The bird trade was banned in October 2005 after birds in quarantine in Essex were found to have bird flu. The ban runs until the end of this month when the EU’s chief veterinary officers, including the UK’s Dr Debby Reynolds, will decide whether it should continue.

In his letter, Mr Blair says “the RSPB’s campaign has graphically demonstrated that the catching and transportation of wild birds…causes unacceptable levels of suffering to the birds and can have a damaging impact on their wild populations.”

He adds that that he believes “there may be considerable support now from other member states and within the Commission for [a ban]...I hope that together we can end the unnecessary trade in wild birds.”

Graham Wynne said: “Mr Blair’s letter is brilliant news. We now hope to work closely with the Government to make sure we finally bring about this ban and look forward to the Government putting the case to its European partners.”

Cath Harris | alfa
Further information:

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