A recent announcement by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (US F&WS) has fueled rumors that the shipping of frog legs (please see photo) and the pet trade in live frogs and salamanders may soon be curtailed or banned. This is not actually the case, but there will soon be an opportunity for people to register comments concerning the trade with the US government.
The Problem: Deadly Diseases
It is now well established that shipping amphibians into, out of and within the USA has helped to spread 2 deadly amphibian diseases – Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Ranavirus. Bd infections have reached epidemic proportions, affecting approximately 350 amphibian species and causing the decline or extinction of at least 250 species.
Current Status of Government Action
In May of 2008, the World Organization for Animal Health classified Bd as a “notifiable disease” and encouraged member countries to submit relevant data. The USA did not respond, whereupon the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife petitioned various US agencies to submit Bd updates. In response, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will soon file a Bd “notice” in the Federal Register.
It is this US F&WS announcement that has generated fears that a trade ban was is the works. However, the function of the Federal Register notice is merely to give interested parties, including individual hobbyists, the opportunity to express their opinions on the trade and its possible role in disease transmission. The time period in which to comment is generally 60-90 days in length.
What Can I Do?
Organizations such as Amphibian Ark have already expressed the intent to comment once the Federal Register notice has been published. I’ll be sure to post a notice of the opening of the comment period on this blog and via Twitter, and will include instructions as to how to go about registering your opinion.
Frozen Frogs Legs image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Simon Law