Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oppose the Muscovy Ban

A rule by the U S Fish and Wildlife Service (50 CFR Part 21) Link went into effect on March 31, 2010 that makes it illegal to raise domestic Muscovy ducks in the U S.

According to this rule, it is now illegal to raise domestic Muscovy ducks without a federal permit.  This rule makes no distinction between wild Muscovy ducks and domestic Muscovy ducks.

Section 21.14 of the regulation reads:

(g) You may not acquire or possess live muscovy ducks, their carcasses or parts, or their eggs, except to raise them to be sold as food, and except that you may possess any live muscovy duck that you lawfully acquired prior to March 31, 2010. If you possess muscovy ducks on that date, you may not propagate them or sell or transfer them to anyone for any purpose, except to be used as food. You may not release them to the wild, sell them to be hunted or released to the wild, or transfer them to anyone to be hunted or released to the wild.

Questions 3 and 4 of a fact sheet Link issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service reads:

3. Muscovy ducks are widely raised for food and maintained as pets and show ducks. Are these muscovies now protected? Yes, muscovy ducks are now subject to regulation wherever found in the United States and its territories, whether in the wild or in captivity.

4. Do I need a migratory bird permit to raise and sell muscovy ducks now? No. Although we amended the regulations at 50 CFR 21.14 and 21.25 to restrict possession and sale of muscovy ducks, we will not restrict possession or sale, or issue permits for this species at this time. As a result of information received since publication of the final rules, the Service has decided to revise the regulations.

Please note that this law is still currently in effect. Only it’s enforcement is being temporarily suspended

The regulation that went into effect on March 31, 2010 requires a federal permit like the permit for breeding hawks or other raptors in captivity, in order to propagate or sell Muscovy ducks. See 21.25, pages 5-6 of the regulation for the permit conditions.

Apparently, the Fish and Wildlife Service was “…unaware of the extent to which muscovies are maintained in captivity and did not know of any organization to inform about the proposed changes.” (from fact sheet), and the Fish and Wildlife Service is now working on revisions to the regulation. Now is the time to make your views on this issue known to the Fish and Wildlife Service and other government officials.

Muscovy ducks have been domesticated since the 1500s. Numerous hatcheries in the US sell domestic Muscovy ducks, many bred from Muscovies from France. Turkeys and Muscovies were both domesticated in the Americas and both are now raised as domestic livestock around the world. The FWS has failed to recognize this long history of the domestic Muscovy as livestock. Domestic Muscovy ducks are livestock, and as such should not be subject to U S Fish and Wildlife regulations.  (See the page about the history of the domestication of the Muscovy in the sidebar on the left.)

We feel strongly that the U S Fish and Wildlife Service should recognize a distinction between wild Muscovy ducks and the domestic Muscovies that have been raised as livestock all across the world for hundreds of years, and that the U S Fish and Wildlife Service does not have jurisdiction over domestic livestock, whether raised commercially, privately, for food, as pets, or exhibition. Please see the Suggested Letter Template below for proposed language.

We see no problem with the portions of the rules (21.54 Control order for muscovy ducks in the United States) that allows localities to control feral populations of Muscovies that have become a problem. There does not appear to be any conflict between this control order and recognizing domestic Muscovies as livestock and exempting them from this regulation. This should not hinder the abilities of localities to control problem feral populations of wild or domestic Muscovies.


Suggested Letter Template:

Dear Dr. Allen:

I am contacting you in regard to the recent regulation by the Fish and Wildlife Service (CFR 21.54) regarding Muscovy Ducks. 

This new regulation makes it illegal for private citizens or organizations to possess Muscovy ducks. While I understand the need to pass regulations that help control the feral Muscovy duck problem in some communities in the United States, I feel that this new regulation overextends the rights of the FWS in regards to private ownership of Muscovy ducks. It is my understanding that you are currently working on a revision to this new rule. I feel that it is important that you give the issues raised in this letter consideration in drafting this proposed revision.

Muscovy ducks have been domesticated since the 1500s (link).  Numerous hatcheries in the US sell domestic Muscovy ducks, many bred from Muscovies from France. Turkeys and Muscovies were both domesticated in the Americas and both are now raised as domestic livestock around the world.   The FWS has failed to recognize this long history of the domestic Muscovy as livestock.   Domestic Muscovy ducks are livestock, and as such should not be subject to U S Fish and Wildlife regulations.

I feel strongly that the U S Fish and Wildlife Service should recognize a distinction between wild Muscovy ducks and the domestic Muscovies that have been raised as livestock all across the world for hundreds of years, and that the U S Fish and Wildlife Service does not have jurisdiction over domestic livestock, whether raised commercially, privately, for food, as pets, or exhibition. This is an unacceptable infringement on the long-standing right to farm and to feed one’s family.

I see no problem with the portions of the rules (21.54 Control order for muscovy ducks in the United States) that allows localities to control feral populations of Muscovies that have become a problem. There does not appear to be any conflict between this control order and recognizing domestic Muscovies as livestock and exempting them from this regulation. This should not hinder the abilities of localities to control problem feral populations of wild or domestic Muscovies.

Please incoprorate incorporate the following points in the revised rule:

Amend 21.14 Permit exceptions for captive-bred migratory waterfowl other than mallard ducks to include the following: 
  1. Domestic Muscovy ducks have a long history of domestication and have long been raised as livestock both in the United States and around the world.  Muscovy ducks that are owned as livestock (for the production of meat, eggs, or breeding stock), pets, or for exhibition shall be considered domestic Muscovy ducks.
     
  2. No migratory bird permit(s) shall be required to possess, propagate, or sell (as live birds, meat, or eggs) domestic Muscovy ducks.
     
  3. The intentional release of domestic Muscovy ducks to the wild shall  be prohibited.
     
  4. You may not take Muscovy ducks or their eggs from the wild , unless such taking is provided for elsewhere in this subchapter. 
Do not place any additional restrictions on domestic Muscovy ducks other than items 2-4 above. 
Keep 21.54 Control order for  muscovy ducks in the United States  in effect without revision.  It seems important that landowners, and Federal, State, Tribal and local wildlife managment agencies be able to control feral populations of Muscovy ducks in areas where they are not native without a depredation permit.

 Thank you for your efforts to revise this rule to recognize the domesticated history of the Muscovy duck.

 Sincerely,

 ________________________

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