After recent research conducted by scientists at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley salamander import may be banned in US because of deadly fungus concerns . Until researchers will come up with a plant to detect the fungus and prevent it from spreading among the salamander population in the US the US Fish and Wildlife Service is urged to ban salamander imports.
It seems that the salamander population in Europe has been decimated by a fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, which could affect the salamander population in the US as well. In Europe the fungus was discovered in 2013 and ever since then it has resulted in a 96% fatality rate. Between 2012 and 2014 the US imported nearly three-quarter of a million salamanders. That is why scientists are concerned the same could happen in the US as well.
Even though scientists have been constantly trying to obtain a ban, but the US government seems not to hurry with a response. Biologist Vance Vredenburg from San Francisco State University said:
This is an imminent threat, and a place where policy could have a very positive effect. We actually have a decent chance of preventing a major catastrophe. They are very important predators of insects, but also an important part of the food chain.”
Salamanders play important ecological roles in North American ecosystems where they are one of the most numerous vertebrates. Most of the salamanders that were imported came from Asia which is believed to be the place where the fungus originated. The animals are often traded across boarder and since they are very popular as pets they easily make their way into Europe through pet trade.
Researcher have conducted laboratory tests and discovered that the fungus is deadly for several salamander species which are popular in the US including the rough-skinned salamander which can be found on the Pacific Coast and the Eastern salamander. This makes the ban all the more urgent.
A similar fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was responsible for the extinction of over 200 species of amphibians. Not only this, but it was the most devastating infectious wildlife disease which was ever recorded.
Co-author of the study David Wake of UC Berkeley remarked that the fungus which they are dealing with now is even worse. He explained that in only three or four days it can turn the animals in tiny masses of slime.
Image Source: animalcarecollege.info