Salamanders and Chythrid Fungus, AZ and WI updates and thank you to OKC Elite.
Arizona Rule Change Updates
 
Last week the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) held a public meeting to discuss several proposed rule changes that could have had huge negative impacts upon responsible pet keepers and breeders in the state. Thankfully, the herp community previously voiced their concerns en masse during the public comment period and in meetings with AZGFD. Herpers involved had the most damaging proposed changes removed or amended, and cleared up major issues with AZGFD. We must thank TTPG’s Richard Fife for following the AZGFD rule-making process and alerting USARK.

While the Arizona herp community was assured (even in writing) that the previously proposed unnecessary rule changes would not be accepted, over 50 dedicated herpers appeared at the meeting to speak on behalf of the Arizona community. This is certainly an example of local herpers getting involved and being successful. It was the Arizona herp community that took care of business. Nicely done!

Though short notice of the comment period deadline was received by USARK, through our Action Alert we generated hundreds of emails to AZGFD who reported receiving over 800 emails in about 48 hours. USARK contacted officials and addressed concerns on behalf of the herp community. Among many other points, we alerted AZGFD to the size of the herp community in Arizona and how many animals and citizens would be affected by the proposed rules. We also produced a flyer and petition which were sent to the 
Arizona Herpetological Association (AHA). AHA collected signatures and made herpers aware of the issue at a reptile show. 

Among other troubles, the proposed rule changes included a restriction on keeping and breeding federally-listed endangered species. While these species are no longer imported and face extinction due primarily to habitat loss, many species are bred in captivity by dedicated hobbyists. As proposed, the rule change may have called for surrender or even euthanization of animals currently being responsibly kept by herpers. This is just one of the proposed rules that was successfully removed.

While the herp community’s concerns were addressed, it is likely there will be a ban placed on all primates. While USARK issued an alert to the entire exotic animal community, no one stepped up who keeps primates (to our knowledge). A representative from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) attended the meeting promoting a new ban on primates and continued ban on hedgehogs. Anyone keeping primates in Arizona should contact AZGFD for additional information. Hedgehogs will no longer be restricted.

Special thanks to the following people, groups and everyone who worked on this issue: Richard Fife from TTPG, Drew Rheinhardt and James Badman from the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group (TTPG) and the Phoenix Reptile Expo, Nathaniel Kutnick from the Arizona Herpetological Association (AHA), Dave Weber, concerned avian community members and AZGFD’s Pat Crouch and Tyler Van Vleet.

You can view background information at
www.usark.org/arizona-proposed-wildlife-rule-changes. We'll provide any additional updates as they become available.

Wisconsin DWA Ban Update
 
We have been informed that the ordinance will be an ongoing process and that the department is open to alternative language. USARK and exotic pet owners will be presenting information and working with officials.

Sarah Grosshuesch (contact information below) is the Public Health Department representative overseeing the development of the ordinance for Adams County. The legislation implemented in Adams County will likely be proposed for surrounding counties.

You can get additional information at
www.usark.org/adams-county-wi-action-alert.
 
Sarah Grosshuesch, Health Officer
108 E North Street
Friendship, WI 53934
608-339-4505
 
OKC Elite Reptile Show
 
The OKC Elite Reptile Show promoters and crew raised over $3,500 for USARK recently. They sold USARK shirts and held an auction at their November show. In just one year, this Oklahoma show has raised nearly $10,000 for USARK. Thank you, OKC Elite!
 
Special thanks to Exotic Aquatics & More, Topnotch Ball pythons, Zoo Med’s Jason Toy and all auction donors.
 
Their next show is May 9-10. You can get show details at
www.okcelitereptileshow.com and www.facebook.com/groups/okcelitereptileshow.
 
 Proposed Salamander Import Moratorium
(Repeated from last newsletter)

 
Following a scientific paper released at the end of October by A. Martel et al., there has been activity in D.C. by environmental groups for a temporary moratorium (delay or suspension of an activity) on all salamander imports (captive-bred and wild-caught) into the U.S. These groups include Amphibian Survival Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and others. The mentioned paper can be retrieved at www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6209/630.full?sid=3bba54ea-15a5-4148-bf85-67b7499a8338.

The study discusses a newly-described chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal or Bs), and the potential threat of this fungus affecting native salamanders in the U.S. Bsal appears to be salamander specific. While the chytrid fungus is not new, the chytrid threat has been elevating in recent years, even affecting very isolated amphibian populations lacking intrusion from humans and modern development. Bsal was found on a 150-year-old museum specimen of an Asian newt after research began. Genetic testing has shown that chytrid fungus has been lurking for 30 million years. While some species are not affected by chytrid, others die if infected. Some species can also be carriers.

A protocol using antimicrobial compounds to prevent the spread of chytrid and other pathogens, as well as swab testing to assure chytrid is not present, at minimum, are being suggested. Another proposal is a certification program based on verified clean sources, reliable testing, treatment or quarantine. Voluntary measures by live animal importers and information/education campaigns will certainly be viewed favorably.

Since the U.S. has the highest Caudate (scientific order, also called Urodela, which includes salamanders, newts, mudpuppies, etc.) diversity of any country at around 200 species, the scientific, conservation and pet herp communities are certainly concerned regarding this issue. It has been shown that animals infected with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) can be cured of the disease in captivity. If this can be proven for animals infected with Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, measures could be incorporated to certify healthy animals, including preventative treatments by the exporters.

 
Since an integrated approach to conservation issues and maintaining ecological integrity are vital to USARK's mission, we are concerned with the chytrid threat and will certainly work to prevent harm to native wildlife and captive populations. We will provide updates as they become available.
 
Reptile Events
 
Cin City Reptile Show: December 14 in Mason, OH. More details at www.cincityreptileshow.com.
 
Repticon Orlando: December 13-14 in Raleigh, NC. Show details at www.repticon.com/orlando.html.

All Ohio Reptile Show: December 20 in Hilliard, OH. More details at www.allohioreptileshows.webs.com.

Kentucky Reptile Expo: December 20 in Shepherdsville, KY. More details at www.kentuckyreptileexpo.com/.
 
New York Metro Reptile Expo: January 4 in White Plains, NY. Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/nyfirst.htm.

Reptile Super Show: January 10-11 in Pomona, CA. Show details at www.reptilesupershow.com.

Portland Metro Reptile Expo: January 17 in Portland, OR. Show details at www.nwreptileexpos.com/portland-metro-reptile-expo.

Midwest Reptile Show: January 18 in Indianapolis, IN. Show details at www.midwestreptile.com/index.php.
 
New England Reptile Expo: January 25 in Manchester, NH. Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/nefirst.htm.

Indiana Reptile Breeders' Expo: January 25 in Columbus, IN. More details at www.irbexpo.com.

NARBC: February 7-8 in Arlington, TX. Show details at www.narbc.com/Arlington/arlington.html.

NARBC: March 14-15 in Tinley Park, IL. Show details at www.narbc.com/Tinley/tinley_park.html.

Texas Rattlesnake Festival: April 11-12 in Round Rock, TX. Details at www.texasrattlesnakefestival.com.

International Herpetological Symposium: May 27-30 in San Antonio, TX. Details at www.internationalherpetologicalsymposium.com.

Reptile Super Show: July 18-19 in San Diego, CA. Show details at www.reptilesupershow.com.

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