By Gary Bogue
Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 7:50 am in Live Animal Markets.
Update on Live Animal Markets — Turtles and Frogs.
The State Fish & Game Commission met in Sacramento Wednesday and Thursday, May 13-14.
I gave the Commissioners and the Department a 50 page packet of materials, 1997 to present, a compilation of various letters, laws, reports, etc., on this issue, much of which dates from before the current Commissioners’ tenure.
** A just-published scientific study reports that California imports more than TWO MILLION American bullfrogs annually for human consumption (mostly from Taiwan and China) and that 62% of them are infected with the dreaded CHYTRID FUNGUS … a prime suspect in the extinctions of scores of frogs and other amphibians around the world in recent years.
The live animal market issue, Item #9-E, didn’t come up until after 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and some interesting discussion followed.
At the time there was a total of FIVE people left in the audience, only two of whom were animal advocates: Virginia Handley (Animal Switchboard) and myself, as is usual at these meetings. We gotta do better, people! Didn’t Woody Allen say that, “80% of life is showing up”? A body is worth a hundred letters, calls or e-mails. The animals deserve better than this.
THE GOOD NEWS:
The five Commissioners (all Governor appointees) reiterated their belief that something needs to be done now about the live animal markets, though the Department of Fish & Game claims that they (the Dept.) are overwhelmed with bigger issues, lack of staff, lack of funding, etc.
Nonetheless, to their credit, the Commission instructed the Dept. (Deputy Director Sonke Mastrup) to come up with some wording on ways to fix the problem, possibly starting with a ban on the importation of the non-native frogs and turtles. There was also talk of subsequent meetings with vested stakeholders: the importers, wholesalers, retailers, markets, etc.
The Commission meets in Woodland at the Yolo Fliers Club, 17980 County Road 94B (just NW of Sacramento) on June 24-25, August 6-7, September 2-3, September 30-October 1, and November 4-5. They meet in Sacramento on December 10-11.
THE BAD NEWS:
Commission President Cindy Gustafson asked that the issue not be agendized until September or October, since the Commission currently has so much on its plate (e.g., the controversial Marine Protected Areas issue, lead ammo in condor country, etc.). This delay was a big disappointment.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW:
Write the Commission and thank them for taking on this issue. But also encourage them to agendize the matter ASAP, by August at the latest. It would seem important to resolve this issue before the January 2010 legislative session — there’s a fear that some legislator (e.g. Senator Leland Yee) might introduce legislation to squelch any new regulations on this issue by the DFG and/or the Commission.
** Number of turtles imported annually is likely in the hundreds of thousands — all taken from the wild, and all diseased and/or parasitized.
State Fish & Game Commission, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; fax 916-653-5040; e-mail email@example.com
Action For Animals would appreciate copies of your letters.
** Ultimately, what we need is a ban on the importation and/or sale of ALL frogs and turtles for human consumption. And any other non-native species of animals (frogs, turtles or otherwise, including the pet trade) should require a permit.
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS
P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA 94620
Eric has been fighting the good fight for years to try and get a ban on the import and/or sale of all frogs and turtles for human consumption. It’s a tough job because there’s a VERY STRONG lobby of the importers, wholesalers, retailers, markets, etc., who have a vested interest in importing and selling these poor abused creatures.
Not only are thousands and thousands of these creatures being ripped off from their local environments … they are ALSO bringing in diseases that are killing our native reptiles and amphibians.
PLEASE help Eric with this important work by writing the State Fish & Game Commission (see above) and asking them to ban the import and sale of these creatures. Thanks for caring. /Gary