CPFA: Shipping Information

By Bob Pommer

There are a lot of barriers to attracting, and holding, new fanciers in our hobby today. Many of these, like lifestyle choices, urbanization, and our society’s desire for activities with instant gratification, are barriers that I suspect that we are just going to have to accept as a reality beyond our influence. However, there are other barriers that we can, and we would be wise to, address if we care about the hobbies future. Among these are the increasingly intrusive community By-Laws, public perceptions of our hobby, and the lack of mobility for our birds... ie.... shipping.

I would love to see our CPFA have the financial resources to put a team of lawyers (lobbyists) together to act as an immediate response team wherever and whenever a responsible fancier is being bludgeoned by an unfair By-Law.

I would also love to see an on-going budget for the promotion of our hobby through old and new media to change the publics view of our birds, over time, from one of vermin at worst and a nuisance at best, to a view more akin to how the public presently views exotic fish, horses, and dogs.

But the barrier to the growth of our hobby that I have been designated to work on by CPFA President, Ken Knight, deals with the problems that we have in Canada in moving our birds from fancier to fancier.

Presently, unless we are geographically close enough for the 2 people who wish to exchange birds to actually meet, the only way to get birds from point A to point B is by air freight. This means an inconvenient and expensive trip to the airport, and expensive bill to get the birds shipped, AND the very real possibility that the airline will not accept the shipment in the first place because of ambiguous and inconsistent container requirements. We have NO Canada Post service!! We have NO courier service!! And as of February 8th of this year, even one of our national airlines (Westjet) will no longer accept “Lives” unless the shipper has a standing commercial contract as a hatchery might have.

This is a hobby among people!! Relationships among fanciers are at least as important as the birds that we raise. I would argue that relationships are more important. However, the birds are the instruments that we use to build those relationships. We need to make stock easily attainable, not with a selling-buying focus, but with a sharing focus whether this involves $$$$ changing hands or not.

Can the situation be improved?

After a month of exploring the issue I believe that there is some room for optimism, but there is far more to it than I had expected. Allow me to give a generalized and point-form summary of some of what has been learned or has happened so far.

The US Postal Service DOES allow birds (pigeons, chickens, pheasants, etc.) to be shipped through the mail in specialized containers. This was done as an Act Of Congress and has been imposed upon the USPS an FEDEX.
Canada Post DOES allow day-old chicks and cold blooded Live Research Specimens ( ex. frogs) to be shipped from March 1st to October 30th.
The CFIA ( Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is responsible for policing the well-being of all “Lives” shipped in Canada. A spokesman responsible for shipping “Lives” has indicated that the CFIA has no problems with pigeons being mailed in Canada.
IATA ( the International Air Transport Assoc.), based in Montreal, creates the rules for shipping containers all over the world, including CDN domestic flights. I am presently not aware of any acceptable commercial container available in Canada that meets IATA guidelines, but a spokesman for IATA has assured me that they are open to a proposal to designate such a container.
The HORIZON company in the USA has designed, tested, and made available, a series of shipping containers that meet USPS guidelines. I am now in possession of sample containers, plus all of their test documentation, in case they are needed for a presentation to IATA.
The CU ( CDN Union, the Racing Homer equivalent of the CPFA) has given their support for this CPFA initiative. There is also an expectation that the AU in the USA along with the European equivalent will also join. I am also seeking support from the squab industry.
My local MP has agreed to look at any final proposal and steer us to the proper authorities if the need should arise.
It would seem that the logical process would be to get an inexpensive, readily available, shipping container accepted by IATA and then recognized by the CFIA. This would then be followed by proposals to CDN couriers and Canada Post who would not be able to hide behind “risk” excuses for not taking our birds.

This is a “brief” synopsis of where the process stands at this point. If anyone reading this is able to assist in any way, your support would be welcomed. Please contact me by email at bob@georgian.net or