By Gary Bogue
Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 7:45 am in Live Animal Markets.
REQUEST FOR LETTERS/E-MAILS – SEPT. 25 DEADLINE
I just got the letter below from Eric Mills, coordinator for Action For Animals In Oakland. Eric has been trying for years to get the state Fish and Game Commission to ban the importation of non-native frogs and turtles that are sold in California’s many live animal food markets. These creatures are diseased, spreading deadly infections to our native amphibians and reptiles and killing them. They are also (illegally) released into the local environments, creating havoc and destruction in local native populations.
Please read Eric’s letter and then send a quick e-mail or letter to the Fish and Game Commission, supporting a proposed ban on the import of these frogs and turtles. Thanks for caring! /Gary
The State Fish & Game Commission meets in Woodland, CA, on Thursday, Oct. 1, beginning at 10 a.m. (Yolo Fliers Club, 17980 County Road 94B, about a half-hour NW of Sacramento. See GOOGLE for directions.) This is a one-day meeting only. (NOTE: Public Forum is first item on agenda — good time to raise any/all wildlife issues.)
“AGENDA ITEM #6 – RECEIPT OF COMMISSION INFORMATIONAL ITEMS -
(A) UPDATE ON SCOPING MEETING AND REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION ON POSSIBLE REGULATORY ACTION TO PROHIBIT THE IMPORTATION OF NON-NATIVE FROG AND TURTLE SPECIES.”
FINALLY, some movement by the Department on this issue. This is a major RESOURCE problem, and it is the mandate of the Department and the Commission to fix it.
As you know, we’ve been trying for some 15 years now to get a ban on the importation and/or sale of non-native frogs and turtles for the state’s many live animal food markets.
More than 25 necropsies have shown all these animals to be both diseased and/or parasitized. When released into local waters (a frequent though illegal practice) they prey upon and displace our native wildlife, including baby ducks, the fry of gamefish and our threatened red-legged frogs and western pond turtles. ALL of the market turtles (mostly spiny soft-shells and red-eared sliders) are taken from the wild in other states, depleting local populations there. None of the market turtles or frogs are native to California.
The number of turtles imported annually is not known, but likely in the several hundreds of thousands — no one’s keeping count. A recent study indicates that some two million American bullfrogs are imported every year into California, mostly from Taiwan, where they are commercially-raised. Even more troubling, this same study reports that 62% of the frogs they necropsied carried the notorious chytrid fungus, a prime suspect in the extinctions of scores of amphibian species around the world in recent years.
WHAT I NEED FROM YOU:
If you or your organization could have a representative at the meeting to testify in support of the ban, that would be great. But also we need to swamp the Commission with e-mails and letters in support of the ban — they should be received no later than Friday, Sept. 25, so that they’ll be included in the Commissioners’
packets before the October 1 meeting. Can do?
It should be noted that the Dept. of Fish & Game has NEVER pushed this issue — Deputy Director Sonke Mastrup, friendly though he may be, has consistently been the stumbling block. I’ve yet to hear DFG Director Don Koch say a word one way or the other on the matter.
At the last Commission meeting, Mastrup proposed (again) to table the issue. The Commissioners, to their great credit, pushed back, and asked that a scoping session be scheduled, to hear from all interested parties, a good first step. ALL FIVE COMMISSIONERS (with the possible exception of newly-appointed Donald Benninghoven, who wishes to remain “neutral” due to his lack of knowledge of the issue) are very supportive of the ban. And so were former Commissioners Frank Boren, Mike Flores, Bob Hattoy, Judd Hanna and Cindy Gustafson.
There’s concern that the Department might make the focus too broad, with a ban on the importation of ALL exotics, which would likely doom any change at all. (Not to be cynical, but that may well be their goal.) I think we need to focus only on the food trade now, and save the pet trade (turtles, frogs, salamanders, tropical fish, etc.) for another day. Back in 1986-87, the Commission received more than 2,000 letters in support of the proposed ban, but failed to act. I think we have a far greater chance of success this time around. We have recent support letters from the Game Wardens Association and Huey Johnson, former Resources Secretary, amongst others.
SO PLEASE SUBMIT THOSE BRIEF E-MAILS AND LETTERS BEFORE SEPT. 25, IF POSSIBLE. BETTER YET, ATTEND THE OCTOBER 1 MEETING IN WOODLAND AND TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF THE BAN. YOUR HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED AND APPRECIATED.
ADDRESSES for your letters and e-mails:
John Carlson, Executive Director
State Fish & Game Commission
1416 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
tel. – 916-653-4899
fax – 916-653-5040
ACTION FOR ANIMALS would appreciate copies of any letters/e-mails you send. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Please forward this alert to other interested parties.
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA 95620
e-mail: email@example.com … tel. 510-652-5603; fax 510-654-7432