Government Moves Toward Controlling Deadly Amphibian Disease

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Government Moves Toward Controlling Deadly Amphibian Disease

From Save the Frogs

Chytrid Fungus has driven nearly 100 amphibian species to complete extinction

Sacramento, CA – 17-September-2010. With many of America’s amphibian species facing imminent extinction, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) took a large step today towards controlling the spread of a deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide in recent years. The USFWS announced a proposal to list amphibians as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act unless they are certified free of the chytrid fungus, which causes a potentially lethal skin disease called chytridiomycosis.

The proposal, if approved, is expected to significantly reduce the spread of chytridiomycosis, as it would require that amphibians entering the country be certified free of the disease. Currently there are few regulations in place regarding the testing or quarantine of amphibians, even though tens of millions of amphibians enter the United States each year to supply the massive pet, food, and laboratory trades. It is thought that the fungus spreads when imported amphibians escape or are set free into the wild, or when the water they were held in is flushed into the environment.

“The new government proposal is fabulous news for frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, which have been rapidly declining in numbers throughout the United States”, says Dr. Kerry Kriger, the Executive Director of SAVE THE FROGS, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting amphibian populations. “Many of our native amphibian species have little or no resistance to the chytrid fungus. Since there is no known way to eradicate the disease from the wild, we have to keep it from spreading to new populations, and that’s what this proposal intends to do”.

One-third of the world’s amphibian species are endangered, and the spread of chytrid fungus is one of the most serious issues amphibians face. In California, the yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads have been driven to near extinction by the fungus. In Colorado, most of Rocky Mountain National Park’s boreal toads disappeared in the late 1990’s when the fungus arrived. The fungus also caused mass die-offs of several of Arizona’s leopard frog species. Amphibians are also faced with other environmental problems, including climate change, pollution, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.

The Fish & Wildlife Service is accepting comments on the proposal through December 16th. You can find more information about the proposal:
http://www.savethefrogs.com/chytrid/usfws-notice-of-inquiry-chytrid.html