In an effort to stem the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus that is wiping out amphibian populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is considering banning the importation of amphibians and their eggs without a permit certifying the animals are disease-free. The chytrid fungus has caused the extinction of at least 200 amphibian species and continues to be one of the greatest threats to amphibians.
In a statement, Rowan Gould, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said,
The worldwide decline of amphibians is of great concern to us. Chytrid is attributed as a major cause of this amphibian mortality. We understand that halting the spread of the fungus or eradicating it will take more than just regulating importation and transportation of infected amphibians, but it is a major step in the right direction.
According the the FWS website, under the Lacey Act, the Department of the Interior is authorized to regulate the importation and interstate transport of wildlife species determined to be injurious to the welfare and survival of native wildlife. Current regulations prohibit the release into the wild of all species of live amphibians or their eggs, except as authorized. But, of course, this law isn’t easily enforced. Many pet frogs are let “free” in local ponds, potentially infecting native species.
A listing under the Lacey Act would not affect a person or institution that currently owns an amphibian and does not transport it to another state or U.S. territory.
At FROGS ARE GREEN, we applaud this proposed legislation and feel it would be a huge step toward controlling the spread of the chytrid fungus that threatens the survival of so many amphibian species, including native species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The FWS is seeking input from the public. You can leave a comment until December 16, 2010. Please take a few minutes to comment and to show your support for a measure that will genuinely help amphibians.
More information: Statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service