Regulatory Brief

 Injurious Wildlife Species; Petition to List All Live Amphibian in Trade as Injurious Unless Free of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Formal title:  Docket Number [FWS-R9-FHC-2009-0093] Injurious Wildlife Species; Review of Information Concerning a Petition to List All Live Amphibian in Trade as Injurious Unless Free of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.



On September 9, 2009, Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, received from the Defenders of Wildlife a petition "To List All Live Amphibians in Trade as Injurious Unless Free of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis." As part of the review process by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Agency sought information from the public to aid in determining if a proposed rule is warranted.

Brief Description:

The importation and introduction of live amphibians infected with chytrid fungus into the natural ecosystems of the United States may pose a threat to interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States. An injurious wildlife listing would prohibit the importation of live amphibians or their eggs into, or transportation between, states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States by any means, without a permit.

AVMA Response:

The AVMA recommends that appropriate state and federal agencies develop, implement, and enforce regulations prohibiting the importation and interstate movement of wildlife when there is reasonable probability that such movement may spread diseases that threaten the health of animals, domestic animals, or wildlife (see AVMA policy Importation of Animals and Animal Products). In doing so, consideration should be given to all potential impacts of movement of wildlife, such as genetics, parasites and pathogens and should be science based. Furthermore, in order to protect animal, human, and environmental health, the AVMA supports the use of appropriate surveillance and control measures on international commerce and travel to prevent the entry of foreign disease vectors and invasive species into the United States (see AVMA policy Prevent Entry of Foreign Disease Vectors and Invasive Species).
The currently proposed concept as stated in the Federal Register (FR), "…that live amphibians or their eggs in trade be considered for inclusion in the injurious wildlife regulations (50 CFR part 16) under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C 42) unless they are free of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis" seems to be an ill fit for the intended control of the chytridiomycosis as well as application of the Lacey Act because it is the disease agent, B. dendrobatidis, which is harmful, not the amphibians.
While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) has the regulatory authority, resources, and protocol for certain animal diseases, the chytridiomycosis caused by B. dendrobatidis is not one of them. Similarly, FWS has oversight of regulations pertaining to amphibians, but not the disease agent B. dendrobatidis. Collaborative efforts between APHIS and FWS to optimize resources, expertise, and regulatory authority to most effectively and efficiently address the surveillance and control issues surrounding this disease will be extremely beneficial in this and future instances.

Regardless of the action taken, the AVMA believes that animal disease control and eradication programs are best directed and supervised by veterinarians. Their training, experience, and expertise are critical assets, and their role is vital for the diagnosis and control of wildlife diseases, conservation of endangered wildlife species, and preservation of animal biodiversity.

Background Documents:

December 13, 2010 Full AVMA Response (PDF)
September 17, 2010; Federal Register Notice (PDF)
September 9, 2009 Defenders of Wildlife Petition: To List All Live Amphibians in Trade as Injurious Unless Free of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (PDF)
September 9, 2009 DOW's Petition to USDA: To Adopt a New Regulation to Ensure Live Amphibians in Trade are Free of Batrachochytrium (PDF)
Lacey Act (PDF)