United States: Urge the USDA to implement strong protections for birds under the AWA

This action is closed.

This action is now closed. Thank you to everyone — over 5,000 animal advocates — who signed the petition in support of strong protections for birds.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed landmark changes to standards under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that would — for the first time — offer protection for birds.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is submitting comments for the USDA’s proposed rule to include minimum standards for birds under the AWA. If adopted, the rule would provide much-needed protection for birds, including those exploited for entertainment and at roadside zoos.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is always working to strengthen the AWA, which is often criticized for having inadequate, minimal protections. Despite the documented flaws in both the scope and enforcement of the AWA, this is our country’s primary law to protect animals.

Please sign on in urging the USDA to retain the strongest proposed legal protections which include requiring appropriate social groupings for social bird species, providing psychological enrichment, and mandating enclosures large enough to allow birds to fly.

Your petition signature will be included with the comments we will submit by May 25, 2022.

By signing your name, you are being added to the following letter of support:

Dear Betty Goldentyer (USDA APHIS Deputy Administrator) and Kevin Shea (USDA APHIS Administrator),

As an animal advocate, I fully support the strongest legal protections for birds. I understand that birds have never had protection under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and so urge the USDA to adopt the highest standards possible.

Birds in the U.S. need protection now. I am aware, for example, that birds bred in “bird mills” for the pet industry are often kept in cages so small they are unable to exhibit natural behaviors or even fly. As a result, they develop lifelong psychological conditions and physical ailments. Birds are also suffering in similar conditions when used in the entertainment industry, at roadside zoos, or in research.

The USDA must protect birds from the worst practices. Please impose standards that prohibit long-term tethering, the transport of unweaned birds, and certain forms of public contact inherently harmful to birds. For example, birds are regularly crushed by people stepping on them in exhibitors’ “budgie barns.” The USDA should also prohibit painful physical mutilations, including pinioning (disabling wings), toe clipping (partial toe amputation), devoicing, and beak alterations, unless done specifically for the health of the bird.

Additionally, I urge the USDA to protect pigeons by requiring AWA licenses for pigeon racers.

Birds are intelligent, sensitive, and social. Their physical and psychological well-being depends on their ability to exhibit natural behaviors such as flying, self-grooming (or preening) and interacting with others of their kind. The USDA’s final rule must require appropriate social groupings for social bird species, provide for psychological enrichment, and mandate enclosures large enough to allow birds to fly.

Minimum standards for the AWA must include the above-mentioned protections for the humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of birds.

Thank you for your consideration,


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