The US Fish and Wildlife Service has just established rules which categorize 201 species of salamanders and newts as dangerous and, therefore, prohibited from being imported to prevent the introduction of the fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans.
As os hemos contado en otra ocasión, this new species of fungus has caused severe declines in the populations of salamanders in several European countries and, as demonstrated by our laboratory experiments published in Science magazine, this pathogen is extremely virulent for many species of European and American salamanders and newts.
This alarming risk to native amphibians led to a request by the scientific community and conservation groups that the US Fish and Wildlife Service ban its importation. This request was formalized by a petition for an emergency moratorium on the pet trade signed by the "Center for Biological Diversity" and "Save the Frogs". In response to this request, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published its new rules in order to prevent the introduction of the disease, which has not yet been found in the USA.
This is a clear message that the US authorities take very seriously the amazing diversity of salamanders (the greatest in the world) in certain areas of the country, such as the Appalachian Mountains.
These new regulations are an example for the European community to follow, where some countries are already suffering the effects of this new pathogen. If we really want to prevent this pathogen from devastating salamander and newt populations in other European areas, like the Iberian Peninsula, we must take similar steps to prevent the massive entry of exotic animals via the commercial pet trade.
Translated by Nate Stein