The harvest of wild birds for aviculture: an historical perspective on finch trapping in the Kimberley with special emphasis on the Gouldian Finch.
Australian Zoologist (1999) 31 (1): 92–109. https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.1999.010
Commercial trapping of finches by licensed trappers was permitted in the Kimberley region of Western Australia until the end of 1986. We provide a history of the trade, focussing particularly on the period since 1968. Details are provided of the legal and policy framework in which the trade operated, trappers, capture, handling and marketing methods, and capture tallies. Reasonably accurate capture tallies are available from 1974. From then until 1986, over 280 000 finches of eleven species were caught and sold. The number of trappers declined by 50% during that time, but the number of finches caught did not decline. However, the number of Gouldian Finches captured declined sharply after 1977. Regression analyses ol Gouldian Finch capture rates failed to identify any consistent rainfall or market variables which might have contributed to the decline. We conclude that the data are consistent with the hypothesis that the Gouldian Finch suffered a major population decline in the Kimberley area in the late 1970s. We also discuss a range of “sustainable conservation” issues related to the harvest of wild birds for the avicultural trade and suggest that a “sustainable conservation” strategy aimed at establishing a viable captive population is incompatible with a strategy aimed at protecting habitat.