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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Adds 201 Salamander Species to Injurious Amphibians List



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Citing a necessity to protect the interests of wildlife and wildlife resources from the introduction, establishment and spread of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced an interim rule on Jan. 13 that adds all species of salamanders from 20 genera (of which there are 201 species) to the list of injurious amphibians. The interim rule, effective Jan. 28, prohibits both importation into the U.S. and interstate transportation of any live or dead specimen (including parts) of these 20 genera of salamanders.

An exception is made for permitted zoological, educational, medical or scientific purposes (in accordance with permit conditions) and for federal agencies without a permit solely for their own use.

According to Washington, D.C.-based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), which has supported establishing a moratorium and put one into place voluntarily within the trade, the rule as written does not allow for sunsetting if an effective testing and treatment regimen is established, said in a statement.

“PIJAC, along with other concerned organizations, have been in discussions with the U.S. government for over a year concerning the Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, fungus,” PIJAC’s statement reads. “This native Asian fungus has impacted fire salamander populations in Belgium and the Netherlands. We have become extremely concerned that Bsal or other pathogens could make their way to the United States prior to any government action to stop it.

“This is a disease that exists in other parts of the world and the pet industry is as concerned as anyone that it not be introduced here. As there is no evidence that Bsal has made its way to the U.S., however, a ban on interstate transport is completely unjustified. The movement within the country of salamanders that are indigenous or have been domestically raised will harm commerce and will have no effect on our efforts to keep infected animals from entering the country.

“Government, industry, non-governmental organizations and academia are working to develop effective testing and treatment regimens. PIJAC felt that until such time as these can be developed and distributed, the threat to the U.S. salamander population dictates that the responsible course of action was to temporarily suspend imports of Firebelly and Paddletail newts. Unfortunately, the proposed rule fails to establish a mechanism to lift the ban once effective testing and treatment are possible.”

For more information, visit pijac.org.

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