Pet parrots that have escaped are a
A rose-ringed parakeet also known as the ring-necked parakeet. The proliferation of pet parrots in the New Zealand wild is bad news many native birds that are already endangered. Photograph: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock
Exotic parrots are on a collision course with becoming a threat in New Zealand, as pet owners release hundreds of them into the wild each year, jeopardizing native bird survival.
According to the University of Auckland, approximately 6% of New Zealanders own pet birds, with an average of 331 animals lost per year; 92 percent of these are exotic parrots, predominantly in the Auckland region.
The figures are cautious since scientists rely primarily on bird owners reporting their missing pets, according to Dr Margaret Stanley, an associate professor of biological studies at the institution. People wouldn't report it online in some situations, and in others, they were purposefully publishing them, she added.
She's done simulations to see how likely it is for pet parrots of the same species to be discovered in the wild together, giving them the chance to reproduce and eventually compete for the same food and nesting space as native birds.
We examined all of the data on survivorship and lifespan for these species, and discovered that there was a greater than 80% likelihood that a male-female couple was at large in the same local board area at any one moment for the seven species we studied. That was 100 percent for the Indian ring-necked parakeet and the Alexandrine parakeet, which is even worse because we know they can hybridize.
The parrots also have the potential to spread diseases, which is terrible news for the 40% of New Zealand's birds that are already endangered. "It's quite difficult to remove or control them once they've started multiplying, Stanley explained.
Dr. Imogen Bassett, Auckland Council's lead biosecurity adviser, said the findings are not surprising.
We get reports of parrots on 'lost and found' pages on websites on a regular basis, and people call council to say they've seen them, so they're obviously out there. I believe that most individuals underestimate how much they are present.
Under the city's pest management plan, Aucklanders will be prohibited from breeding and selling a variety of exotic parrots, including monk parakeets, ringneck parakeets, and rainbow lorikeets, beginning September 1.
They have a long history of invading dozens of countries and posing a serious threat, Bassett warned. That's why research like Margaret's is so alarming, because it really emphasizes the depressing possibility of us joining all of those other countries.
Invasive species damage is tripling every decade.
This has enraged some Auckland pet owners and breeders, but Bassett says the city council will consult more before proposing regulations against some parrot species that are already abundant in the environment, such as eastern rosellas.
Since the horse has bolted [for rosellas], the ones we're most concerned about are the ones that don't yet have wild populations.
According to Bassett, unlike when possums, rats, rabbits, and other pests were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century, New Zealand now has the potential to eradicate a parrot infestation. We're still picking up the pieces of that very expensive and terrible disaster 150 years later. We know that prevention is better than cure when it comes to biosecurity.
Stanley went on to say that it can't just be a localized approach; it needs to be a nationwide ban. At the present, you can buy one from Hamilton on TradeMe and have it shipped to Auckland, and breeders are talking about setting up shop outside of Auckland.