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Two farms in Belize raising ostriches without legal permission, and a third trying to get a permit as concerns arise

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Posted: Friday, January 28, 2022. 7:11 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias:

Two persons reportedly have ostriches in the Belize and Cayo Districts numbering from ten to 15 and a third person is trying to get a permit to either import or have them.

Breaking Belize News sources say neither the Forest Department nor the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) has issued any permission for anyone to either import or have ostriches in Belize and that the birds that are here now were brought in as eggs some time ago.

The sources said ostriches are wildlife even if farm-raised and permits wouldn’t normally be given for these animals because they can be invasive and dangerous.

That’s contrary to what Minister of Sustainable Development Orlando Habet reportedly told Love News. In their Thursday night newscast on both Love Television and Love FM, the media house quoted Habet saying that the animals are not classified as wildlife. He reportedly said the Forest Department was investigating the matter and that BAHA is doing an import risk analysis. Habet reportedly also said that a protocol must be established for identification, tracking, and monitoring the birds.

Permits for animals such as pet dogs are given by BAHA, while for wildlife, permits are given by both BAHA and the Forest Department.

The persons who have them, reportedly have applied to keep them, but there are concerns that they might have them for other purposes. Ostriches are reared for their meat, feathers, eggs, and skin (leather).

The third person applying reportedly is pointing at the fact that the ones who have them illegally have been allowed to stay with them. But our sources say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

The problem, say the sources, is that there is no plan. The sources believe that the animals are either going to be raised and then killed for their meat and/or leather or have them as a zoo.

Neither of these reasons would be good enough to merit a license, our sources say. However, if permits were to be issued those permits would be accompanied by serious restrictions.

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