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Proposed AWA Standards for Birds (APHIS-2020-0068)


A three picture collage of two macaws, a toucan and a lorikeet in zoo settings.

Introduction | Current Status | Implications | History

Introduction

This page provides a general overview of the new proposed Animal Welfare Act standards for birds. This page will be continuously updated as information on the status of the regulations progress.

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Current Status

A proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2022. You can find the rule at this link: https://www.regulations.gov/document/APHIS-2020-0068-8062. The 60-day comment period closed on 5/25/2022.

Please note that this is only a proposed regulation. All comments will be read and considered prior to formulation of a final rule. When a final rule is published, formal responses to all comments will be included

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Implications

The estimated date of publication of a final rule is sometime around February of 2023. Please note that the date of the publication is not the date the new regulations will go into effect. While an effective date is still to be determined, our goal will be to give regulated entities sufficient time to come into compliance.

It is understandable if you have questions or are wanting further information regarding how this may impact you and/or the birds under your care. Because this rule is still only in the proposed stage, we are unable to answer specific questions. However, we encourage you read the proposed rule and voice your concerns and/or thoughts on the proposal.

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History

(Laboratory) Animal Welfare Act passed. Act initially defined animal to mean “live dogs, cats, monkeys (nonhuman primate mammals), guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits.

Definition of animal redefined. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (the “Farm Bill”) included provisions that amended the definition of animal in the Act by specifically excluding birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research. Congress' amendment to the Act meant that birds not bred for research and not otherwise excluded under its provisions were, for the first time, explicitly subject to AWA regulation.

Advance notice of proposed rulemaking notifying the public that we intended to extend enforcement of the AWA to birds not bred for use in research that are sold as pets at the wholesale level, or transported in commerce, or used for exhibition, research, teaching, testing, or experimentation purposes.

Several lawsuits filed against USDA for failure to promulgate regulations for birds not bred for use in research.

As a result of one of those lawsuits, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the AWA requires APHIS to issue standards applicable to birds not bred for use in research and that APHIS has not issued such standards.


Three listening sessions were conducted to obtain input from stakeholders on the development of a proposed rule. Transcripts can be found at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/aw-news/bird-listening-sessions

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