Massive confiscations from the live bird trade represent population level and species-level disaster.
Poaching techniques vary, but young birds can suffer trauma or exposure from nest disruption, tree-felling, power-tool injury, entanglement and chemical/pharmaceutical dosing.
The ways in which birds are captured from and removed from the wild are innumerable. Traumatic injuries result from the physical action of snares, traps, bird lime and resin “sticky glue” traps, nets, projectiles, removal of young and adults from nests, felling of trees in which nests are found, and many more. These capture methods often result in fractures of wing and leg bones, luxations, soft tissue avulsion/crushing/laceration/maceration; myopathy, hypoglycemia and exhaustion. Psittacines fight back and often are not handled with compassion at capture.
Psittacines may be moved by any or all of the following: on foot, on horseback, moto, vehicle, boat, or aircraft.
Poachers apprehended during water transport may throw birds overboard, resulting in near-drowning in fresh or saltwater, hyper- and hypothermia, respiratory distress and damage from fumes, carbon monoxide and/or dioxide and dust inhalation, lesions of near-suffocation, fractures of wing and leg bones, luxations, soft tissue avulsion/crushing/laceration/maceration, myopathy, hypoglycemia and exhaustion.
Confiscated birds may have been collected in the wild using pellets, bb’s, bullets, shotgun (firing into a flock and collecting all the survivors, similar to dynamiting a reef), darts, arrows, spears, rocks, slingshot ammunition, and so on. Forcible water streams from garden or high-pressure hoses can inflict serious injury. Compressed air or other gases are also used to collect birds.
Thermal burns may result from inexperienced people feeding nestlings and juveniles formula or food that is too hot; or wildfires that have been deliberately set for poaching.
Confiscated or recovered birds may show signs of blunt trauma, fractures, skin infections, filth-related disease, trauma from overcrowding or inadequate transport. They may have spent some time in human care; they may be malnourished and/or supporting an array of pathogens. An overlooked but serious injury is the psychological damage they suffer from the entire poaching process, which ultimately can lead to fearful, aggressive, timid or other maladapted states impairing social development which eventually may negatively affect the success of integration to a flock and successful release.
What to Expect
Obvious sick birds
respiratory distress is possible with many infections
mucous discharge from eyes, nostrils, mouth
soiling of feathers, poor grooming
thin and dehydrated, inability to drink or feed
massive mortalities of nestlings
mass mortality, peracute death
apparently uninjured birds may exhibit extreme docility and uncaring attitude
governmental agencies' involvement
CITES regulations may be superceded
What to Do
TAKE EXTREME CAUTION AND ASSUME ALL BIRDS ARE AN INFECTIOUS EXPOSURE RISK TO YOURSELF AND OTHER BIRDS. USE APPROPRIATE PPE
Have permission and legal protection IN ADVANCE from the appropriate authorities to work with confiscated birds
keep them in a warm, dry, safe and secure environment
follow strict biosecurity
follow all instructions by authorities and regulatory agencies
contact appropriate rescue if/when possible ASAP
minimal handling using proper PPE
visual or audible contact with other birds is desirable
with correct veterinary management, proper rehabilitation techniques, and protection form further poaching, many birds can be saved and released back to the wild
life-long sanctuary may be required (see Flowchart:)