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Feb 15, 2022

Forestry Officer Says Ostrich Permit Granted, but with Conditions

So today, the Department of Forestry indicated that they have also approved a permit for Marin to import ostriches, but that she must present a management plan. Deputy Chief Forest Officer, John Pinelo Junior, told News Five this is required of everyone. He also says the delay on their end was caused by this being a first time event.


John Pinelo

John Pinelo, Deputy Chief Forest Officer, Belize Forestry Department

“What has happened from our perspective of the application is that Ms Marin has been talking to B.A.H.A. for I don’t know how many years she said she has been speaking to them, but the first time that Mrs. Marin formally contacted us was the first of February, 2022 by email. Today is the fifteenth of February and we have the permits ready. Now I will tell you that two weeks to process one of these permits is fast-tracking it. So there is no issue. It is a process. You don’t walk in here and get a permit to import an animal that has never been formally imported into the country, that we’re setting up criteria on how you handle it and that we have to do our investigations and find out whether it is practical to have this animal in Belize. Now you may say “But Guatemala and Mexico does,” but maybe they have better systems in place already. We don’t. So it’s something new for us and we had to go through all our criteria, our stipulations on the permits to make sure that we protect, firstly, our local species in this country, and secondly, that this thing doesn’t get out of proportion and in ten years, everybody has ostriches all over the place and we don’t know what negative effects we will have on our environment, on our wildlife, on our country, our health. We’re dealing with a pandemic right now that it is said was caused by animal to human transmission, so it is something that is of concern to us. The permit does not authorize the permit holder to undertake captive breeding, and ranching of the wildlife in their possession, unless a management plan is prepared and approved by the Forest Department. Now if people don’t know, these animals are dangerous! They have two-inch talons on their legs. They can kill somebody with one kick. So those are some of the stipulations that we had to make sure that we put into account on the permit before we process the permit.”


Pinelo says permits for ostrich importation will be granted on a case by case basis. And, for people who already imported ostriches illegally, the Forestry Department will have to set up some type of formal regulations for them in order that this new industry is managed properly.

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