Thursday, January 14, 2016

B. sal and using the Lacey Act properly

May contain politics. Viewer discretion advised. In this post, I support the Lacey Act in this application. However, I am still strongly against banning large constrictors.

In Europe, there is a fungus known as Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or B. sal that causes chytrid in salamanders. Amphibian conservation groups were alarmed when it caused massive die-offs in wild European fire salamanders. As a result, the pet trade in fire salamanders poses a serious risk to North American salamander diversity and, as a result, the Fish and Wildlife Service has expanded the Lacey Act of 1900 to ban live salamander imports into the US.

This may seem alarming to those of us who are involved in the pet trade, but let's think about history. The Lacey Act was originally enacted to protect endangered birds from getting killed for feather hats. This application is what the Lacey Act is intended for, which is protecting our native species of concern to conservation groups. 201 salamander species are now listed as injurious until we are sure that B. sal is contained, cured, or eradicated. And, recently, almost all salamanders imported into the US went through Asia and were within the 20 genera that pose a serious risk of carrying the lethal fungus and poisoning United States ecosystems.

The reason for this widespread ban is because, as far as newts and salamanders go, the United States has more salamander diversity than anywhere else in the world, especially within the Appalachian mountain range. Many of the species found within this mountain range are endemic to it and play major roles in the region's biodiversity. Those species getting eliminated or their populations getting damaged due to B. sal would cause a major collapse in the food chain of the area, causing other issues with other animals of the region, collapsing its biodiversity and environment. This would eventually severely damage the entire ecosystem of the Southeastern US. Plus, we'd lose a lot of adorable, iconic salamanders.

Let's think about life without the ban. In the last 5 years, almost all salamanders that were imported into the States for the pet trade came from Europe or Asia and were within the genera that pose risks of carrying B. sal. This may pose limits on herpetoculture, but the protection of our ecosystems and endemic species is far more important than making sure Repticon can have salamanders for sale.

For some literal comic relief, here's an accompanying political cartoon, courtesy of My Little Python.

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