Commercial export from Australia of native birds, wild or captive bred, is prohibited. This paper firstly describes the current legislation and regulations that restrict the export of native birds and discusses why governments have adopted such a regulatory approach to bird species preservation. Secondly, the paper reviews the debate concerning the export ban, pointing out strengths and weaknesses in arguments and indicating the important role of CITES. Lastly, the paper outlines a new case for a conditional lifting of the ban, whereby DNA fingerprinting is used to establish transferable property rights to overcome a main source of market failure in the preservation of bird species. Application of this DNA technology offers an opportunity both to protect wild populations and to develop a legitimate export industry based on breeding in captivity.