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Exotic frogs & turtles: Help stop their import for the live food markets

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 7:31 am in Exotic wildlife.

American bullfrog. Photo by Flickr user Grant Webster used under a Creative Commons License.
bullfrog2 grant webster

Please see Item #7(B) on the Sept. 3 Agenda of the California State Fish & game Commission meeting in Woodland: “Update and possible course of action regarding exotic frogs and turtles.”

This is an important resource issue. In 1997-1998. the Commission received more than 2,000 letters in support of such a ban (see below), including the former secretary of Resources, California Fish & Game Wardens Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and others.

Action is long overdue.

Red-eared slider. Photo by Flickr user lakegeorgevacations used under a Creative Commons License.
red-eared slider

California currently imports more than TWO MILLION live American bullfrogs annually for the live food markets. Most are commercially-raised in Taiwan. Hundreds of thousands of live turtles (mostly red-eared sliders and spiny softshells) are imported from other states for these same markets. All are taken from the wild, depleting local populations.

None of these animals are native to California. When released into local waters (a frequent although illegal practice), the non-natives prey upon and compete with our native wildlife. The bullfrogs are a major predator of the western pond turtle (our only native freshwater species), as well as baby ducks of many species. And the turtles and frogs alike both prey upon the fry of our native game fish. This should concern every sportsman and conservationist.

Adding to the problem, recent necropsies on the market frogs and turtles have shown them to all be diseased and/or parasitized, with everything from E. coli, salmonella and pasturella (all potentially fatal to humans), to giardia, blood parasites, even one case of malaria. Worse, recent studies have shown that the majority of the imported bullfrogs carry the dreaded chytrid fungus, a major suspect in the extinctions of scores of frogs and other amphibians worldwide in recent years.

Letters in support of the proposed ban are needed now, TODAY. Please write: John Carlson, Exec. Director, State Fish & Game Commission, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; fax 916-653-5040; e-mail Please fax your letters to speed up their arrival.

The state of Oregon banned red-eared sliders years ago, and severely restricts the American bullfrogs. California should follow suit.
Eric Mills, Coordinator, Action For Animals, P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA 94620

Good luck on getting this ban approved. It MUST be done. I’m astonished that such a serious problem has taken this long to be resolved Obviously way too much politics. Thanks for fighting the good fight, my friend. Don’t stop. /Gary

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