JWN Arts & Hawking 

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Steps to Importation Under a Co-operative Breeding Permit

by Jim Nelson

This assumes you already have a legal source for the (captive bred) birds and are a member of a raptor propagation co-op that is approved for the species you intend to import. It helps if you are dealing with someone in the exporting country you can trust your life with. There are many con artists out there quoting prices and taking deposits on birds that do not exist or can never be exported.



1)                  Make arrangements with breeder/shipper and set a tentative date for shipment at least 5 months out. This may take longer. We have waited up to 8 months to receive an import permit.


2)                  Immediately apply to Department of Management Authority for USFWS Importation Permit using Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) Form 3-200-48; download this application from:    http://www.fws.gov/permits/  There is a $100.00 filing fee. Don’t forget to include the check!!


3)                  Wait 100 days before pestering DMA for results. Contact Head Biologist Michael Moore 1-800-358-2104 extension 1983 (The person and number are likely to change periodically). Fax: (703) 358-2281. After one 7 ½ month wait, I contacted my congressman and had my permit in hand 2 weeks later. Aggressively assert your civil rights, and do not hesitate to involve elected officals to aid your pursuit of happiness.


4)                 Assuming you are now in possesion of a USFWS/DMA Importation Permit for Cooperative Breeding, your exporter must have a CITES permit in hand and a health certificate that makes the seven required statements (see additional info below):


*******  CITES permit pitfalls:

 Be sure to get a scanned copy of the CITES permit from your exporter at least two weeks (or more) before the importation. Email this scanned copy to the USFWS Inspector that will most probably oversee your inportation at the port of entry. If there are discrepencies on the CITES permit (even unintended clerical errors) get these out of the way before your birds "hit the ground." It will be worth all your effort to do so to avoid the complications and expense that can arise over the smallest and seemingly insignificant minutiae. Visit the CITES Secretariate website to doublecheck that the issuing authority of the exporting country is CITES recognized.

  ******* Health Certificate Pitfalls:

Be sure the exporting health certificate answers the seven required statements--

  (1)   That all the birds covered by the certificate were inspected by the veterinarian issuing the certificate,

  (2)  That no evidence of Newcastle disease, chlamydiosis or other communicable disease of poultry was found among the birds,

  (3)  That insofar as has been possible to determine, the birds were not exposed to Newcastle disease, chlamydiosis or other communicable disease of poultry during the 90 days immediately preceding their exportation,

  (4)   That the birds have NOT been vaccinated with Newcastle disease vaccine,

  (5)   That Newcastle disease did not occur anywherre on the premises from which the birds were to be exported nor any adjacent premises during the 90 days immediately preceding the exportation of the birds,

  (6)   That neither the premises from which the birds were to be exported nor any adjacent premeises were located in any area under quarentine for poultry diseases at any time during the 90 days immediately preceding the exportation of the birds,

  (7)    That the birds were placed in previously unused containers at the place form which they were to be exported.


5)                  When your exporter informs you of the shipping date:

a.       Contact USDA office nearest quarantine station that you intend on using.

b.      Predict the date that the permit will be authorized.


6)                  Apply for a USDA Importation Permit, schedule quarantine dates and pay for permit and quarantine.  Because this will be time sensitive, begin pestering right away. Keep a copy of the USDA Importaion Permit once you recieve it, but send original to your exporter. Use Fed Ex, not US Mail. It absolutely, positively must get there overnight (read: weeks later).


7)                  Make personal contact with your quarantine station personnel. Discuss facilities and arrangements. This is a whole different group of people than those who issue the USDA portion of your import permit and schedule the quarantine dates. For San Diego: Mark, Alex, Manny, or Bertha at the station itself (619) 661-3097; office (619) 661-3308


8)                  Arrange to ship frozen quail to arrive at least two weeks prior to arrival of importation. Boyd’s Birds: (509) 332-3109 Ship them by fastest means possible, hard frozen.


9)                  Contact and arrange a “USDA APPROVED” driver to transport birds from airport to quarantine station. Only a “USDA APPROVED” driver can do this and there is usually only one (pray he does not get sick). For LA: Jerry Meyers: (818) 241-7011. The air conditioned van is $275.00 ($50.00 more than the transport truck with canopy but it is cool and darkened).


10)              Contact USFWS Law Enforcement and alert them to the importation. To do this, send a certified letter explaining that you are a cooperative breeder and have a USFWS importation permit through DMA to do so. Attach photocopy of the permit. Send to Portland office if this is an LAX importation, or to the appropriate office elsewhere in the US. Information on locations and addresses of Regional offices can be found on the back of your 3-186A forms in your regular breeding and falconry files.


11)              Contact and arrange Customs Broker to expedite paperwork at airport on day of arrival. A list of brokers will be supplied to you by USDA when you initially contact them to apply for their portion of import paperwork. The Customs Broker will charge around $120.00 for basic services. Other fees: $112.50 bond for birds; $55.00 USFWS inspection; $35.00 airline import fee; $10.00 bond preparer fee; and 1.8% of total declared value of shipment Custom Duty. Unless you are insuring the shipment and wish to list their highest value for security, be sure to declare the lowest value of the cargo (raptors) to minimize the tariff charged based on this figure. For LAX: “Salman” at J. G. Wiley Company is an experienced and thorough broker. (310) 641-6422


12)              Supply Customs Broker with:  a) Power of Attorney; b) CITES permit from country of origin; c) health documents from shipper; d) invoice stating shipper’s name and address, common name and species name, number of birds, value of each, total value of shipment; e) original USFWS Importation Permit; f) copy of USDA permit


13)              Scheduling with the USFWS can be done for you by the Customs Broker. Ask the broker to be certain this is done. Again, supply the USFWS with a copy of the exporter's CITES permit at least two weeks (or more) before shipment to ensure that things will go smoothly once the birds are on the ground ...US soil. Trust me when I say, this prior notification and presentation of the CITES permit is IMPORTANT!!!!


            If the Customs Broker is doing this on your behalf, you may still wish to confirm with USFWS independently. If the Customs Broker is not doing this, you must contact Port of Entry at least 72 hours prior to arrival and schedule a USFWS inspection: for LAX – (310) 328-6307; fax (310) 328-6399.  If you contact them too early then you must re-confirm 48 hours prior to the actual arrival of the birds.


14)              Prior to shipping, ask the shipper to be certain that every talon of all shipped raptors have had the tips removed. In our experience, the sharp tips of overgrown talons can be driven into the pads of the bottom of the raptor’s own foot/feet during the stressful time of shipment and quarantine if the birds clench their feet repeatedly when frightened. Hard-to-cure bumble foot infections can be easily prevented with this one simple prevention.


15)              Contact USDA 48 hours before shipment arrives and fax Arrival Information sheet.(they supply this to you in the initial packet) 48 hours before arrival. LAX: Jerry Juden (310) 725-1970; fax (310) 725-9119


16)              Remind customs broker 24 hours prior to arrival.


17)              Remind driver 24 hours prior.


18)              Remind Port of Entry USFWS 24 to 48 hours prior to arrival.


19)              Verify birds made it through customs and to quarantine. Contact DMA and supply verification that the birds listed on the permit were the ones that came in. This can be done over the next few days after the birds arrive at quarantine.


20)              Within 30 days of importation, fax a “cleared copy” of the complete-and-authorized USFWS “Declaration of Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife."  This is critical in order to complete the importation process with the DMA.


21)              Sweat bullets for 30 days and hope that none die or that you will not have to have each individual specimen retested after the group fecal test ($94.00 per test). The retest samples each individual and the testing fee is multiplied by that number of birds. Additionally, if there is retesting, the birds will stay in quarantine until all test results are back and cleared. You pay for each bird each day no matter how long it takes, but 30 days is the minimum. It pays to call the folks at the quarantine station and verify that all of the tests have been taken and sent to the lab in the first week so that your results are back by the end of your 30 days and there is time to re-test if needed.


22)              Pick up your birds and go home. You can elect to have the birds put on a flight, but you will most likely have to supply new crates because the ones they came in may not be “airline approved” for the USA.


23)              In our experience, the best management of newly arrived raptors from quarantine is unrestrained (free-loft) isolation in a clean and cool environment, good nutrition and lots of fresh water. Unless you have reason to suspect they are in need of immediate veterinary care, leaving them alone for a few weeks to recover and adjust is probably the best approach.