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Frog & Turtle Alert: Your e-mails and calls urgently needed now!

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 at 6:42 am in Fish and Game, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles.

Freshwater turtle. Photo by Flickr user zevotron used under a Creative Commons License
turtle zevotron

Dear Gary:
FROG/TURTLE ALERT – E-MAILS/CALLS URGENTLY NEEDED NOW.

The Mandate of the State Fish & Game Commission is to protect the state’s natural resources. Toward that end, the Commission voted twice (5:0 in March) and (3:0 in May) to no longer issue permits to import live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets. Sadly, the battle is not over.

American bullfrog. (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
bullfrog1

The Commission met in Stockton, CA, on May 5.  S.F. Chinatown’s Pius Lee and a dozen market supporters showed up at the hearing to express their displeasure at the decision (only about three months too late, one would think). They had not a clue about the impact the exotics were having on our native wildlife, nor did they seem to care.

They were merely interested in protecting their business and “cultural” interests, the rest of us and the environment be damned. Nothing new there. No market sells only turtles or frogs, so nobody would go out of business if the ban holds.

Only two Commissioners were present: Jim Kellogg (Pres.), and Mike Sutton (who works at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a strong supporter of this effort). There was no quorum, so no votes could be taken. Nonetheless, on May 6, the S.F. CHRONICLE reported that, “After hearing from the merchants Wednesday morning, Commissioner President Jim Kellogg promised that the body would reconsider the new policy at a future meeting, citing both the legislators’ request and the public testimony.”

Six environmentally-challenged state legislators submitted a letter to the Commission on May 4 protesting the ban on importing live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets. The letters was signed by Assemblymember Fiona Ma and Senator Leland Yee, both Democrats from San Francisco, plus Ted Liu (D-Torrance), Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), and Warren Furutani (D-Long Beach).

THEY ALL NEED TO HEAR FROM US!

California imports two million American bullfrogs every year for the live markets, plus some 400,000 freshwater turtles.  The frogs are commercially raised in Taiwan.  ALL the turtles are taken from the wild in other states, depleting local populations.  The animals are routinely butchered alive.  None of these animals are native to California, and the exotics displace and prey upon our native wildlife when released into local waters, an illegal though common practice.  Ask any game warden.

Worse, all of the market frogs and turtles are diseased and parasitized:
E. coli, salmonella, pasturella, giardia, you name it, though it’s illegal to sell such products.  A 2009 study in BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION documented that, of the market frogs necropsied, 62% tested positive for the dreaded chytrid fungus, a prime suspect in the extinction of more than 100 amphibian species in recent years.

The Commission would be foolish to reconsider the ban, and likely be sued to boot.

No live markets sell only frogs or turtles, so no one’s going to be put out of business.  Frozen frog legs and turtle will still be available.

PLEASE DO NOT DELAY!  A Commission teleconference call is scheduled for this matter on Thursday (May 20).

Again, this ban, if enforced, would spare the lives and suffering of some two million American bullfrogs, and more than 300,000 freshwater turtles. In you e-mails, do not focus on the animal cruelty (though it’s extensive); the Commission’s Mandate is to protect the state’s natural resources, so let’s do what works, O.K.?
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA  94620; 510-652-5603

Florida softshell turtle. Photo by Flickr user john picken used under a Creative Commons License
softshell, florida, john picken

Dear Eric:
Here’s what caring people can do:
All legislators may be e-mailed and called, asking them to support the State Fish & Game Commission ban on importing live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets.

E-mail addresses follow a formula. Examples: assemblymember.huffman@assembly.ca.gov, or, senator.pavley@sen.ca.gov.

To find the names and phone numbers of your Assembly Member and Senator: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html

And please also e-mail and call John Carlson, Exec. Director, State Fish & Game Commission, and all members (Commissioners: Jim Kellogg, president; Richard Rogers, vice-president;  Michael Sutton; Daniel Richards; Donald Benninghoven). E-mail – fgc@fgc.ca.gov. Call: 916-653-4899

PLEASE DO NOT DELAY! As Eric said above, a  Commission teleconference call is scheduled for this matter on Thursday (May 20). Normally a letter is the best way to go, but there’s not enough time, so please e-mail AND call your legislators and the Fish & Game Commission. Ask them to support the State Fish & Game Commission ban on importing live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets. Thursday is just two days away.

Thanks for caring. /Gary

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2 Responses to “Frog & Turtle Alert: Your e-mails and calls urgently needed now!”

  1. Karen Says:

    Thanks Gary and Eric for all your hard work for the animals. In addition to calls and e-mails to the Commission, American Tortoise Rescue has a CARE 2 petition going that everyone who cares should sign. It can be found at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/454/687/792
    World Turtle Day is May 23. To find out more please visit http://www.tortoise.com.

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