A total of 326 Cayman parrots have been registered with the Department of Environment at the close of its six-month amnesty.
The registration period, which started on 1 Sept. and ended over the weekend, was implemented to record domestic Cayman parrots as a way to help protect the indigenous species and monitor the birds being kept as pets.
“I am extremely pleased with the overwhelming response from members of the public concerned with the health and husbandry of their birds. The success of the project has exceeded my expectations,” DoE Terrestrial Research Officer Jane Haakonsson told the Cayman Compass Wednesday in an emailed statement.
She said 19 of the birds were registered on the Brac and 307 on Grand Cayman.
Under the project, each registered bird was given a full medical check-up. They were all outfitted with one identification leg band and implanted with a microchip. The DoE had said these identifiers “will enable enforcement officers to readily identify poached parrots and enforce the law”.
“Each bird has a file in our system and owners have each received (or is in the process of receiving) individualized recommendation letters in order to optimize the health and general well-being of their birds. It is a huge undertaking, but one I feel we owe these parrots,” she said.
Haakonsson said that, over the amnesty period, the most common issues the DoE found were birds being kept in undersized cages, obesity from sunflower seed mixes, and various injuries from their initial capture.
“We have not removed any birds from their home, with the exception of one bird which needed urgent veterinary care and another whose owner passed away,” she said.
What happens once the amnesty ends?
Now that the amnesty is over, any unregistered Cayman parrots that are still being kept as pets may be seized by DoE conservation officers, and the bird-owners can be fined for possessing or keeping them illegally. The maximum penalty for this is a $500,000 fine and/or four years in prison.
“As a result of the amnesty, pet parrots can now be distinguished from wild parrots, thus birds which are illegally removed from the wild can be identified. From this baseline, we can operate successfully under the National Conservation Law to protect our National Bird,” Haakonsson said.
She said there are no plans to extend the amnesty, as it has been carefully planned to protect the wild birds as their breeding season approaches.
“The Amnesty Project will continue to act as a safety net for the registered birds for the remainder of their life-span. In the event owners can no longer take care of these long-lived parrots, we are here to ensure the birds will get optimal care either by assisting the current owner with particular issues or by re-homing the bird at the owner’s request,” she added.
Haakonsson thanked everyone who registered their birds.
“We have met so many kind people and we have been warmly received across the island,”