Salamander Injurious Listing ACTION ALERT

Deadline to comment: March 14, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST

USARK has been and will continue to address this issue. As always, USARK works to protect the entirety of the responsible herpetocultural community. While protection of native species is essential, this rule is far-reaching, actually overreaching. It would essentially end a clean trade by responsible herpetoculturists. In addition, the ban on interstate transportation will negatively affect, if not devastate, studies and field research projects, including those on listed native species. This injurious listing under the Lacey Act is attempting to be a one size fits all solution for a much more complex situation. The “abuse of discretion,” ”unreasonableness” and lack of “rational basis” for most aspects of this ruling by definition make it unconstitutional. There are ways to effectively address this issue without applying this misuse of the Lacey Act.

FWS has issued an interim rule, with a final rule to be posted in the future following the comment period (details below). We'll release updates as they become available.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has posted its interim rule in the Federal Register. They have listed 201 species (from 20 genera) of salamanders as injurious. According to FWS, this will prohibit importation and interstate transportation of the listed amphibians. The interstate transportation prohibition applies to both captive bred and previously imported animals. The interim rule was effective on January 28.

As always, please remember that it is crucial to never release pets into the wild. Also, remember to be professional and civil at all times when commenting.

The deadline to comment is March 14, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST.

Action Alert

Additional information and links can be found at bottom of page.

Link to comment. Then click “Comment Now” at the top rightwww.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-FAC-2015-0005-000

Use the Talking Points in combination with your personal experience to write your comment.

Link to comment. Then click “Comment Now” at the top right: www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-FAC-2015-0005-0001

Sample Comment Introduction

I do not support the injurious listing of 201 species of salamanders. While I am supportive of efforts to protect native species from disease, this application of the Lacey Act is overreach used by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). This action is misuse and perversion of the Lacey Act. Other options are available to protect U.S. native salamanders and it's a shame my American government is considering more overreaching legislation rather than common sense solutions.

Continue with your thoughts and incorporation of the provided Talking Points.

Talking Points

  1. Using an injurious listing does not allow for flexibility or future adoption of practices and protocols as findings regarding Bsal develop and evolve.
  2. There are processes in place to regulate the movement of animal diseases through coordination with the United Nations and World Trade Organization.
  3. Much of the reasoning used to justify this action is based upon conjecture.
  4. Banning interstate transportation and commerce of these species is overreach.
  5. After extensive testing, no salamanders in the U.S. have tested positive for Bsal.
  6. Animals produced in the U.S. by responsible breeders have been shown to be “clean” and Bsal-free.
  7. While an argument can be made to ban importation of a limited number of species, an interstate transportation ban cannot be argued with legitimate reasons.
  8. This is a severe misuse of the Lacey Act as the 201 salamander species were not listed due to their potential to be injurious, but to reportedly prevent introduction of a disease, over which Lacey does not have jurisdiction. The Lacey Act pertains to animals, not diseases.
  9. Permits to transport species listed as injurious by accredited institutions have taken up to eight months to obtain or have been denied without legitimate reasoning.
  10. The permit process is overbearing and impractical, especially with the extreme delays on issuance.
  11. The permit does not allow for transportation between breeders and consumers.
  12. There is absolutely no valid reason to ban interstate commerce of these species.
  13. Even if wild salamanders in their native range may be carriers of Bsal, there is no legitimate reason to ban interstate transportation of animals bred in captivity or those captive populations that have tested negative for Bsal.
  14. With no evidence that Bsal is present in the U.S., FWS should have allowed another agency such as the USDA to ban only the importation of some species. Another agency should have handled this since FWS has claimed an injurious listing is the only tool they have to help prevent Bsal.
  15. FWS claims an interstate transportation ban applies to all species listed as injurious and all science shows that only a temporary importation ban should be implemented until quarantine, treatment and testing protocols can be established.
  16. Stating there is a permit available for bona fide research and limited other reasons when permits take many months to receive is not acceptable justification.
  17. Adding 67 native species as injurious clearly illustrates the bad science used. Simply because a species may be capable of carrying the disease does not matter if the disease is not present. In other words, with no disease present, there is nothing to carry.
  18. Even the summary provided by FWS states that Bsal“dies at 25 °C (77 °F).” This clearly demonstrates application of a heated quarantine and treatment method that could be utilized on imported salamanders, yet an injurious listing does not allow for such protocols. An injurious listing terminates the trade of these species by responsible parties. The treatment protocol could also be used by domestic breeders.
  19. FWS stated: “Surveys of anglers have indicated that they routinely release salamanders into the areas where they fish, which includes areas that are not part of the salamander's native U.S. habitats, suggesting that animals are routinely moved long distances.” There is not similar survey data for pet owners, so assuming the pet trade is the problem for releases is unfounded. This is merely an assumption and targeting the pet trade simply because it is an easy target is unjust.
  20. This statement is highly inaccurate: “Bsal is likely to be introduced into and spread throughout native salamander populations in the United States unless immediate action is taken to limit the import and interstate transport of salamanders that are likely to carry Bsal.” Once again, interstate transport is not a cause of concern if Bsal is not present in the U.S. or within the captive populations.
  21. Other agencies, such as the USDA, could have tailored this action so as to not impact responsible domestic trade and pet owners.
  22. Anyone who has these salamanders will now not be allowed to take them across state lines. This means:
    1. Breeders working with threatened or endangered species cannot continue to breed them if they must move.
    2. Pet owners cannot take their pets if moving.
    3. Field researchers cannot transport specimens or their parts for research.
    4. Bone fide conservation efforts will be hampered.
    5. Native species cannot be transported to other states even when better breeding or research facilities may be located nearby but just over a state line.
    6. Specimens cannot be transported across the country for valuable research.
  23. Interest in salamander research has been increasing in college and university students. Now this educational enthusiasm will be devastated as even with the availability of permits, the unexplainable long wait for permits will encourage students and professors to seek other fields.
  24. Rather than using their new categorical exclusion to rapidly list species as injurious to unjustly affect the domestic trade of these species, FWS should have sought a tool that could be utilized to temporarily ban importation without affecting interstate transportation.
  25. Only the trade of imported salamanders was possibly accurately studied. The domestic trade of U.S. bred salamanders was not extensively studied and therefore FWS could say there is a minimal negative effect.
  26. Even if the negative effect on U.S. breeders is insignificant in the eyes of the government, that does not justify ending the passion for American keepers who likely have a true passion for these species.
  27. While intrastate commerce is still an option, the vast majority of sales usually involve interstate commerce.
  28. Captive propagation is a recognized form of conservation and this effort will be devastated by this action.
  29. FWS stated, “We considered other alternatives that we rejected because we do not have the authority under the Lacey Act to implement them ourselves.” They themselves admit that they were not the best agency to take action. For instance, there is not authority under Lacey to ban importation and not interstate transportation (an authority FWS claims to have while effectively arguing they do not have jurisdiction over interstate transportation by others).
  30. Simply because this action “will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more” does not make it acceptable. Using this train of thought, it’s perfectly fine to stomp on small business while requiring special consideration for big business.
  31. “…338 domestically bred salamanders would face the interstate transportation prohibition.” Publishing this evidently absurdly low number demonstrates the lack of research done by FWS.
  32. FWS claimed, “This rule would not impose significant requirements or limitations on private property use.” This again is false. The majority of sales by breeders and businesses require interstate transportation so there certainly will be significant requirements and limitations imposed.
  33. There is lack of substantive evidence that the pet trade is the definitive cause of Bsal in European wild salamander populations.
  34. Listing entire genera because only certain species within those genera may be carriers provides more evidence of the overreach used.

Please read the questions asked by FWS if you can provide supplemental comments.

FWS has requested answers to the following questions specifically:

(1) How many of the species listed by this rule are currently in production for wholesale or retail sale, and in how many and which States?

(2) How many businesses sell one or more of the species listed by this rule?

(3) How many businesses breed one or more of the species?

(4) What species listed as threatened or endangered by one or more States would be affected by the introduction of Bsal?

(5) What provisions in the interim rule should the Service have considered with regard to: (a) The impact of the provision(s) (including any benefits and costs), if any, and (b) what alternatives, if any, the Service should consider, as well as the costs and benefits of those alternatives, paying specific attention to the effect of the rule on small entities?

(6) How could the interim rule be modified to reduce costs or burdens for some or all entities, including small entities, consistent with the Service's requirements? For example, we seek comment on the distinct benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative, of (a) the prohibitions on importation and (b) the prohibitions on interstate transport of the species listed by this rule. What are the costs and benefits of the modifications?

(7) Is there any evidence suggesting that Bsal has been introduced into the United States or may have already established?

(8) Are there other pathways for Bsal into the United States that we should address? If so, what are they?

(9) Is there evidence suggesting that any of the species listed by this rule are not carriers of Bsal? If so, what species?

(10) Is there any evidence suggesting that additional species are carriers of Bsal and should be listed by this rule? If so, what species?

(11) Are there methods (such as thermal exposure) that would allow salamanders imported into the United States to be reliably treated to help ensure Bsal is not introduced into the United States, and how could compliance be monitored?

(12) Should the Service add eggs or other reproductive material of listed salamanders to the list of injurious wildlife because they may also carry Bsal?

(13) For the species we are listing, are the scientific and common names the most appropriate ones accepted by the scientific community?

(14) What are relevant Federal, State, or local rules that may duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the interim rule?

LINKS

Read the interim rule at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Salamander-Listing-Injurious-Final-2016.pdf.

Link to comment. Then click “Comment Now” at the top right: www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-FAC-2015-0005-0001

See all species listed at www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/pdf_files/List-of-Salamander-Species.pdf.

View a FWS Question and Answer sheet at www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/pdf_files/Bsal-External-QA-F.pdf.

Find all supplementary information at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/01/13/2016-00452/injurious-wildlife-species-listing-salamanders-due-to-risk-of-salamander-chytrid-fungus.

More information at www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/salamanders.html.

View the USARK newsletter from December 2014 regarding Bsal at www.us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d7e8c81109173978c4240862c&id=2a51d02304.

Article written by USARK