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Stop importing frogs, turtles for live animal food markets

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 6:03 am in Food Animal Abuse, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles.

Bullfrog photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA

Dear Gary:
It is truly gratifying to see the overwhelming support for Assembly Bill 376, co-authored by Assemblymembers Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), which would ban the importation, possession and sale of shark fins for shark fin soup.

The bill has its first hearing on March 22 before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, chaired by Mr. Huffman; Mr. Fong is also on that committee.

Support letters are needed now.  ALL STATE LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA  95814.  (There’s also a growing movement in Asia to ban this ugly and unsustainable commerce.)

Once the shark fin issue is resolved, I’m hoping that our legislators and the general public will take a hard look at the very similar problems found in the many live animal food markets throughout California.  We annually import some TWO MILLION American bullfrogs (commercially raised in Taiwan), plus an estimated 300,000-400,000 freshwater turtles (all taken from the wild in states east of the Rockies).

Turtle photo by Flickr user zevotron used under a Creative Commons License.
turtle zevotron

None of these animals are native to California, and when released into local waters (a common, though illegal practice), they prey upon and displace our native species, such as the endangered red-legged and yellow-legged frogs, and the western pond turtle.  Some 25 necropsies have shown all the market frogs and turtles to be both diseased and parasitized, putting the public health at risk.  Even more troubling, a 2009 study published in BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION documented that, of the market frogs necropsied, 62% tested positive for the CHYTRID fungus, which has caused the extinctions of nearly 200 amphibian species worldwide in recent years.

As you know, the Dept. of Fish & Game and the Fish & Game Commission have received nearly 4,000 letters in support of a ban on the market turtles and frogs.   Indeed, last year the Commission voted 5:0 to direct the Department to cease issuing import permits for the frogs and turtles, but were ignored by the Department.   As with the sharks, we’re running the risk of losing two entire orders of animals, for the most indefensible of reasons:  soup and superstition.  (Some people erroneously believe both turtles and shark fins to be aphrodisiacs.)  And, like the sharks, many of the market animals are butchered while fully conscious.  Not acceptable!

Any help you might provide would be much appreciated, Mr. Bogue.  Heartfelt thanks for all your efforts.
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, Oakland

Everyone reading this can help put an end to this horrific problem with one simple action:

*** MAKE A COPY OF THE ABOVE LETTER AND SEND IT TO GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN, THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814 … and ask Gov. Brown to instruct the California Department of Fish and Game to cease issuing permits for the importation of live turtles and frogs for human consumption in the live animal food markets in California.

It’s not complicated. Gov. Brown has it within his power to fix this nasty situation immediately, if he is so inclined. And he might just be inclined.

There’s only way to find out. Please send the above immediately. Please. The lives of millions of reptiles and amphibians depend on it. Thanks for caring. /Gary

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