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Live Animal Food Markets: Frog & turtle ban by Fish & Game Commission

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 at 6:55 am in Fish and Game, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles.

Bullfrog. Photo by Flickr user John-Morgan used under a Creative Commons License
bullfrog John-Morgan

Frog & turtle ban at live animal food markets! Finally!

Wow, is this good news! And we owe it all to Eric Mills of Action For Animals (see his letter below) who has been leading this fight for years! Please drop Eric an e-mail at and thank him for his his dedication in helping to end the suffering of untold numbers of animals! Eric truly fights the good fight. Thanks, Eric … /Gary

April 12, 2010

Greetings, all:
** See attachment from the State Fish & Game Commission at end of this note.

THIS IS A BIG DEAL, SO I’M HOPEFUL THAT THE MEDIA WILL GIVE THIS ISSUE THE PUBLICITY IT DESERVES.  It will spare the lives and prevent the suffering of millions of animals, while protecting the environment and the public health.

Softshell turtle. Photo by Flickr user alex_lee2001 used under a Creative Commons License
softshell alex_lee2001

On April 8, 2010, at their meeting in Monterey, the State Fish & Game Commission voted 3:0 NOT to issue any future permits for the importation of live turtles and frogs for human consumption.  “Aye” votes were cast by Commissioners Richard Rogers, Mike Sutton and Don Benninghoven.
Commissioner Dan Richards was absent, and Commission President Jim Kellogg recused himself, citing a possible conflict of interest (his daughter’s boyfriend owns a pet shop in Concord.  Curious, since all five Commissioners, including Mr. Kellogg, voted in favor of the original proposal at the Commission’s March 3, 2010 meeting).

A small coalition of dedicated individuals has been working toward this goal for 15 years.  We’ve had hearings before the San Francisco Animal Welfare Commission and the Fish & Game Commission in the mid-1990s, protests, debates, major media publicity, a lawsuit, and more than 2,500 letters in support of a ban over the years.  Grandma was right:  It pays to persevere.

The current permits will be allowed to expire, all within one year, reportedly.  After that, any live frogs or turtles sold for food in the Chinatown markets or elsewhere in California will be deemed illegal, punishable as a misdemeanor.

This is a major and precedent-setting victory for the animals, the environment, and the public health.  At present, California imports TWO MILLION American bullfrogs for the markets every year.  Most are commercially raised in Taiwan.  We also import an estimated 300,000-to-400,000 freshwater turtles for the food trade, ALL taken from the wild in states East of the Rockies, depleting local populations there.

Worse, some 25 recent necropsies on the market frogs and turtles have shown them all to be seriously diseased and/or parasitized:  E. coli, salmonella, pasturella (all potentially fatal in humans), giardia, blood parasites, even one case of malaria.  It is ILLEGAL to sell such products for human consumption, yet the sales continue unabated.  Even more troubling, a January 2009 study published in BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION documented that, of the market bullfrogs necropsied, 62% tested positive for the dreaded chytrid fungus, a prime suspect in the extinctions of more than a hundred species of amphibians worldwide in recent years.  That alone should be enough to shut down this commerce.

The market frogs and turtles are frequently bought alive (which is
prohibited) and illegally released into the wild by well-meaning but uninformed people.  None of the market frogs and turtles are native to California, and they cause major damage when dumped into local waters, where they prey upon and displace our native wildlife, and introduce exotic diseases and parasites.

There is horrendous animal cruelty in these abattoirs, though that was not a reason for the Commission’s vote.  Their mandate is simply to protect the state’s natural resources.  But it was the cruelty issue which first drew many of us into this battle.  The frogs and turtles are often stacked four-and-five deep, without either food or water.  Many are butchered while fully conscious, though this is illegal (not to mention cruel and immoral).

In sum, this is a major victory for the animals, for the environment, and for the public health.

Here’s hoping you can help spread the good news.  Thank you for your consideration.

American Bullfrog. Photo by Flickr user eviltomthai used under a Creative Commons License
bullfrog eviltomthai

** Attachment from State Fish & Game Commission:

Commission Policy

The Fish and Game Commission declares that:

1. The Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Game have been charged by the Legislature to protect and wisely manage the State’s living natural resources and the habitats upon which they depend.

2. The importation of non-native turtles and frogs poses threats not only to the State’s native turtles and frogs, but also to the native source populations of the imported turtles and frogs.

3. These threats include, but are not limited to: disease, hybridization, competition, and predation.

Therefore, it is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that the Department of Fish and Game shall cease issuing importation permits for any live non-native turtles or frogs pursuant to Section 236, Title 14, CCR.

(Adopted: Date of Commission Meeting) (April 8, 2010)

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4 Responses to “Live Animal Food Markets: Frog & turtle ban by Fish & Game Commission”

  1. Eric Mills Says:

    You’re a pip, Mr. Bogue!

    Thanks for helping to spread the word on this considerable victory.

    I would encourage your readers to write to John McCamman, Director of the State Dept. of Fish & Game, and ask that he immediately stop the sale of all turtles and frogs in the state’s many live animal food markets. He has the authority.

    His address:

    Eric Mills, coordinator

  2. kaaren Smith Says:

    Thank you with all my animal loving heart. As a child in the late 40’s, early 50’s, I remember seeing those pitiful live creatures of many types stacked upon each other and wanted to scream and buy them all to free them! I did not want to enter China Town ever again and wondered how they got away with this. I wish I had the knowledge and foresight to act on something. Can’t start over, but I can start now by writing Mr. McCamman.

  3. honda civic hybrid Says:

    Hiya, I don’t go along with everything in this write-up, but you do make some very good points. I’m very involved in this matter and I myself do alot of research as well. Either way it was a well thoughtout and nice read so I figured I would leave you a comment.

  4. John Doe Says:

    I wonder how many of those in support of this ban have turned a blind eye to slaughterhouses and chicken farms that pose an even greater threat to “animal rights.” I’d bet that even the sensationalist Mr. Mills enjoys himself a hamburger now and then. Do you know where that meat came from, Mr. Mills? People overlook that these animals are part of many cultures’ history and cuisine. Don’t hate what you don’t understand.

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