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Is There a Proposed Ban on Buying or Selling Amphibians in the USA?

Frozen Frogs LegsA 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?

Fire SalamanderOrganizations 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.

Further Reading

For further information on BD and the amphibian trade, please see this Amphibian Ark Update, this World Organization for Animal Health Report and my article on the Amphibian Bait Trade.


Frozen Frogs Legs image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Simon Law

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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