Help save 12,000 parrots in Madrid!
Spanish animal activists sound the alarm over unnecessary massacre of 12,000 parrots in Madrid. The city council plans to kill all registered specimen, claiming they pose a threat to residents, biodiversity and public health. All false allegations according to local animal welfare groups, who demand an ethical management of the parrot population in a petition that has already been signed almost 50,000 times. “Stop this extermination. The parakeets need us more than ever!” The Spanish political party for animal rights, PACMA, has also campaigned to prevent the killing.
Animal welfare organizations and PACMA have strongly resisted the City Council of Madrid’s decision to gas or shoot all 12,000 registered specimen ever since it was announced early last year. Still, the municipal council turns a deaf ear to their arguments and has recently chosen a private company to carry out the execution (budget set: 2.9 million euros).
According to the council, the parrots are an ‘invasive species’ and pose a problem for city dwellers by producing ‘unacceptable’ noise and putting safety at risk with their large communal nests, which could fall down. Furthermore, the birds are accused of causing the decrease in sparrows in the city and of transmitting diseases. As local animal protectionists point out, none of these ‘problems’ have been proven or otherwise justified.
Allegations, not evidence
The decrease of sparrows has scientifically been linked not to the occurrence of parrots, but to air and light pollution, to a lack of green areas and nesting opportunities on buildings, and to climate change increasing the prevalence of a mosquito transmitting the parasite avian malaria. Secondly, while all animals are potential transmitters of diseases, the main disease the parrots could spread (chlamydia psittacii) has not been detected in wild parakeets, whereas it is common in parrots bred in captivity and sold as pets. Furthermore, no incidents of falling nests have been reported and potential danger could easily be prevented. And as far as the complaint of noise pollution is concerned: the birds sleep at night and traffic noise is a much bigger problem, according to animal protectionists.
For ethical management of a man-made ‘problem’
Animal welfare organisations and the Spanish political party PACMA argue that there are humane alternatives to control the parrot population without killing any animals, such as sterilization of male birds and preventing eggs to hatch. According to PACMA and veterinarians, such measures are also more economical and more effective in the medium and long term.
On a more fundamental level, the animal protectionists argue that it is unethical to blame these animals and to make them suffer for something humans did. After all, the parrots were displaced from their place of origin for humans’ pleasure. From the late 1980s onwards, large amounts of wild parrots were captured in Argentina, Uruguay, Pakistan and Senegal and sold as pets in Spain and elsewhere under the CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). When sales expectations were not met, many were released by their retailers, others escaped or were released once their owners got bored. Thanks to their capacity to adjust to their new environment, the birds survived and reproduced.
“These birds have been living together in our cities for decades and it is not fair that they should be exterminated, especially if none of the reasons given for this are justified. These birds feel pain and emotions and should have the right to live in freedom and according to their own interests,” the animal protectionists state.