Interim rule in the Federal Register to be published listing 201 salamander species as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act
The Amphibian Survival Alliance is pleased to announce that on Wednesday, Jan. 13 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be publishing an interim rule in the Federal Register to list 201 salamander species as injurious wildlife (or those likely to cause harm) under the Lacey Act.
This action is being taken in response to the significant threat of the introduction of the recently described fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, also known as Bsal or salamander chytrid. Bsal has caused major die-offs of salamanders in Europe. Because the United States is a global hotspot for salamander diversity, there has been a collaborative call for such action.
The Amphibian Survival Alliance applauds this action. The extent of the rule covers 20 genera of salamander species that could be potential carriers of the fungal pathogen. It restricts the importation and movement of these species into and around the United States without appropriate permits.
“This action should be seen as an effective step toward controlling a serious threat from a wildlife pathogen and the response from the Service to the issue has been admirable,” said Reid Harris, Amphibian Survival Alliance director of international disease mitigation.
“That said, it’s clear that halting the trade in any large group of animals has many challenges and as we move forward with dealing with an increasing number of wildlife health issues we need to consider effective ways of preventing the spread of wildlife pathogens, while allowing a clean trade program to exist.”
Since the publication of a paper in late 2013 highlighting the potential impact of this new fungus, a large network of organizations representing the pet trade, zoological and herpetological societies, animal welfare groups and conservation NGOs—including the Amphibian Survival Alliance—and groups of university scientists have been working tirelessly to encourage actions to minimize the threat of Bsal introduction into the United States.
This interim rule will take effect on Thursday, January 28 to allow animals currently in transit to reach their destination points. Following the announcement tomorrow there will be a 60-day comment period when members of the public are encouraged to submit their views on the rule. During this period the scientific community and all those interested in this issue will be reviewing the proposed rule closely. Full instructions on how to submit comments can be found at www.regulations.gov (please enter the docket number FWS-HQ-FAC-2015-0005). Further details on this interim rule and additional supporting documents can be found at www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife.
While this is a positive move by USFWS, additional studies can determine if any non-listed genera are carriers of Bsal. While this work is underway, there will be a continued coordinated effort across North America and Europe to closely monitor the pathogen, and preparations in the event it may appear in the wild.
“Thanks are due to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and his staff, who have set a model for other nations concerned about Bsal to follow,” said Peter T. Jenkins, a policy consultant to the Alliance. “The conservation community and all the many others who care about amphibians will rest easier knowing that proactive steps are finally in place.”
Photo: The Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) is one of the 201 species of salamanders listed as injurious wildlife. Photo: Yuval Helfman.
Candace M. Hansen-Hendrikx
Amphibian Survival Alliance