SPCA orders veterinary care for birds at World Parrot Refuge
Coombs, B.C., sanctuary has fallen on difficult times following the death of founder in February
The SPCA has issued orders for veterinary care after assessing the condition of birds at the World Parrot Refuge on Vancouver Island, and the agency is recommending all birds be dispersed to new homes.
The long-running sanctuary in Coombs, B.C., is home to hundreds of parrots, but it has fallen on difficult times since the death of founder Wendy Huntbatch in February.
"We can't order that birds be dispersed, but we would strongly encourage the World Parrot Refuge to develop a long-term strategy very shortly," said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA.
The SPCA responded to complaints about conditions at the facility two weeks ago and issued orders for veterinary care for some birds, Moriaty said, adding veterinarians are working at the site this week.
The SPCA does not have the power to close the facility, she said, but can seize parrots if care plans set out by the veterinarians are not followed.
The avian support network F.E.A.T.H.E.R.S. is among a number of organizations that have come forward with offers of help to find appropriate space for the birds at other rescues or in private homes.
Founder Laurie Rex visited the World Parrot Refuge over the weekend to do a census of the birds. She said there are currently 450 parrots at the facility, but that number has been as high as 900 in the past.
"There was a limited number of staff and they were running full tilt trying to do all that they could as far as cleaning and feeding," she said.
Rex said it is not sustainable to care for such large numbers of parrots without significant staff and expertise, and she would have liked to see the SPCA step in years ago.
She estimates the cost of basic care for one parrot to be about $1,600 per year, before factoring in unexpected veterinarian costs.
The refuge is a non-profit that operates on donations and admission fees.
Following Huntbatch's death, the refuge property was passed to her husband Horst Neumann. He told CBC News he can't comment on the current situation for the birds or future plans for the sanctuary.