“Kidderminster is fast becoming a haven for illegal wildlife dealers”
Wyre Forest District Council has come under fire for yet again facilitating an exotic pet market this Sunday 29th July 2012 at the Wyre Forest Glades Leisure Centre. Trading in pet animals at market stalls was outlawed in 1983, but the Council, which has a duty to enforce the legislation and is also a landlord of the property, has turned a blind eye to illegal reptile and amphibian traders that now operate regularly from the leisure centre.
The Animal Protection Agency (APA), which campaigns against the trade in wild animals as pets, provided the Council with ample evidence to act on the illegal trading of reptiles and amphibians at Sunday’s event. This evidence included an independent scientific report, published earlier this year, which showed that reptile markets are fundamentally commercial in nature and that the conditions and treatment for most animals at these events is ‘tantamount to animal abuse’. The Council has previously been provided with a long list of established commercial traders who operate at the Glades Leisure Centre events. APA also warned the Council of the public health risks associated with the close proximity of people to captive exotic animals and the post-event contamination of the venue.
In defending the sale of wildlife at markets, the Council previously tried to argue that selling animals as pets at the event was legal because it involved ‘private members’ attending a club meeting. That argument was quickly lost. This time the Council has wrongly tried to argue that a High Court ruling (on the law about selling pets at markets) actually specified that ‘hobbyists’ (ie not registered pet dealers) may legally sell to the public. However, there is no such exemption!
The Council was unable to explain where in the Judicial Review ruling they got the ‘hobbyist exemption’ from, and when pressed, stated that “…..any further correspondence from you (APA) will not receive a reply.”
This year, Councils elsewhere in the country have taken firm action against illegal wildlife traders and in two cases this has involved the events being cancelled. A prosecution for illegally selling at another market is also pending against a seller known to attend the Glades event!
Said Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency:
“Wyre Forest Council has received woefully poor legal advice on the status of exotic pet markets – if they have actually sought any advice at all. This has not only led their failure to enforce the law, but – as landlord of the venue – they are directly facilitating illegal trading! Worse still, the advice that the Council has issued will actually lead people to break the law. As a result of the Council’s incompetence, Kidderminster is fast becoming a haven for illegal wildlife dealers.”
APA will be issuing a formal complaint to the Council, and will compel the Council to address all its queries via a Freedom of Information Request. If necessary, the matter will be progressed to the Local Government Ombudsman.
· For further information, please contact Elaine Toland on 01273 674253 or on the out of hours number: 07986 535024
Note to Editors:
The recently published independent scientific report on Amphibian and Reptile Pet Markets in the EU, jointly commissioned by APA, is available to download from www.apa.org.uk
Animal Protection Agency
Brighton Media Centre, 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL
Tel: 01273 674253