10 October 2012
BRUSSELS: 4th October: A new report ‘Wild Pets in the European Union’ and a two day Conference ‘Import and Keeping of Exotic Animals in Europe’ hosted by Cyprus, the current Presidency of the EU, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, has put the controversial keeping of wild animals as pets firmly on the map.
International experts, veterinarians, scientists, trade specialists, and regulators were joined by Members of the European Parliament in reviewing the status of the trade in both wild-caught and captive-bred exotic species and what measures may be required to guarantee animal welfare, biodiversity, human health and safety, and environmental integrity. Their deliberations struck a chord with the results of a recent public opinion survey which found that 80% of European citizens approved of additional restrictions on the sale of exotic species of animals and plants.
Daniel Turner, spokesperson for ENDCAP, the European coalition that authored and published the report, commented: “European citizens, Europe’s Parliamentarians, international scientists and the Federation of European Veterinarians, representing all of Europe’s veterinarians, are calling for measures to restrict and control the trade in and the keeping of exotic pets by private individuals in the European Union.” Turner explained, “Our research has identified severe threats to biodiversity as a result of the exotic pet trade. There are also significant disease risks to public health and safety and our natural habitat could be under threat if these species are released or escape into the environment.”
Europe’s Parliamentarians, international scientists and the Federation of European Veterinarians specifically call for:
1. Effective measures to reduce injury and mortality as a result of the trade.
2. Clear, consistent definitions of terms such as domestic and wild.
3. Harmonised EU legislation and effective enforcement of existing legislation.
4. Traceability – accurate identification and registration of wild animals in trade.
5. Improved public information concerning species husbandry, animal care, and how to reduce the risks associated with keeping wild animals as pets.
6. Better education and training of customs officers, animal professionals, firemen, veterinarians and other professionals likely to have exposure of exotic animals.
7. An EU-wide certificate of ownership for certain species (particularly those deemed dangerous).
8. Restricted movement of certain species (particularly those known to carry disease).
9. The prevention of unsustainable wildlife exploitation in countries of origin.
10. Consideration of greater trade restrictions to prevent over-exploitation or animal suffering.
Kriton Arsenis, Greek MEP, Said "Personally I believe there is no justification for keeping a wild animal as a pet. We are not talking about domesticated animals such as dogs or cats but wild animals that may be abducted from their natural habitat or are bred in captivity. For me, wild animals belong to the wild. Moreover, the trade in exotic animals may encourage and facilitate illegal and criminal activities that endanger species and habitats. I therefore welcome the recommendations made at this important meeting and would go further in calling for an EU-ban on exotic pet trade to protect biodiversity, animal welfare and public health."
Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, a member of ENDCAP, and President of the Species Survival Network, said: “We are asking members of the public to express their opinion and support our call for these urgently needed changes, by signing our Petition, which we intend presenting to the European Commission, seeking an urgent reduction in the wild animal trade in wild animal pets and better protection for European citizens”.