Fish and Wildlife Commission Must Stop Importation of Turtles and Frogs for Asian Live Food Markets in California

Commission Meets In Santa Rose April 13 and 14

For 18 years, we have been appearing before California Fish & Wildlife asking for the Commission to stop the importation of turtles and frogs into the Asian live food markets in California. The commission meets in Santa Rosa CA, April 13 and 14, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95405. Eric Mills from Action for Animals will be speaking again Thursday.

A 4th-grade school teacher and her class of 15 students have all written to Commissioner Richard Rogers (now gone), asking for them to do something about the bullfrog problem.   

What follows is one of many letters sent to the Commission asking for the importation to stop.  This one is from 2014 but it echos our sentiment for the past 18 years. The Commission turns a deaf ear.

Aug 6, 2014

Just for the record, the Fish & Game Commission's 2010 5:0 vote to stop the frog & turtle imports for the live markets was the result of efforts begun in the mid-1990s, nearly 15 years before Save the Frogs! even existed. Credit the late Virginia Handley of The Fund for Animals; Susan Tellem & Marshall Thompson of American Tortoise Rescue; Madeline Bernstein of the Los Angeles SPCA, Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute, retired game warden Miles Young, and herpetologist Paul Haskins, myself, and a very few others.  Credit where credit is due, please, with all due respect to the recent efforts and good work of Kerry Kriger and Save the Frogs!

In addition to the two million+ bullfrogs imported for food every year, add 300,000 to 400,000 non-native freshwater turtles (mostly red-eared sliders, another highly invasive species; and softshell turtles), all taken from the wild, depleting local populations.  Recent necropsies have shown ALL the market frogs and turtles to be diseased and/or parasitized, though it is ILLEGAL to sell such products for human consumption. Evidence has been found of E. coli, salmonella and pasturella (all potentially fatal in humans), blood parasites, giardia, even one case of malaria.  And now the chytrid fungus (Bd), prime suspect in the extinctions of 200+ frog and other amphibian species worldwide in recent years.  What does it take, pray?

California Code of Regulations 236 requires that any such shipments be either destroyed or sent back to point of origin.  Why is the Department of Fish & Wildlife not following its mandate to protect the State's natural resources, pray?  Back in 2010, the DFW ignored the Commission's instructions, with then-Director John McCammon stating that he would continue the import permits on a month-by-month basis.  Challenged by an irate Commission, then-Deputy Director of the Department, Sonke Mastrup (currently Exec. Director of the Commission) weakly responded, "The Director acts at the pleasure of the Governor."  So much for the democratic process and any REAL concerns about protection of our native resources.

Once again, "political correctness" and $$$ trump the environment.  Perhaps the new Director of DFW, Chuck Bonham, will do better.

The Commission needs to re-agendize this issue.  We need a permanent ban on the importation of live frogs & turtles for food.  Failing that, the State Legislature needs to pass legislation banning the mayhem:

environmental, public health, animal cruelty.  (Most of the market animals are kept without food or water, many butchered while fully conscious.)

WRITE:  Director, Dept. of Fish & Wildlife; and Secretary of Resources.  Both may be written c/o The Resources Building,

1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA  95814; email for Mr. Bonham - director@wildlife.ca.gov ; email for Mr. Laird - secretary@resources.ca.gov , Exec. Director, F&G Commission - fgc@fgc.ca.gov (same street address). All legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.

I would appreciate copies of any letters/emails sent.

Sincerely, Eric Mills, coordinator

ACTION FOR ANIMALS

P.O. Box 20184

Oakland, CA  94620

email - afa@mcn.org

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About Us

American Tortoise Rescue is a nonprofit founded in 1990 for the protection of all species of turtles and tortoises. We have rescued more than 3,000 since our inception. Foundlings that cannot be adopted because of ill health remain in the care of ATR for the remainder of their lives. ATR acts as a clearinghouse for information about turtle care. We work to abolish “live market” slaughter of turtles in the US, the cruel importation and exploitation of a variety of species and protecting the desert tortoise.

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Quick facts

Two million+ bullfrogs imported for food every year in California
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300,000 to 400,000 non-native freshwater turtles are highly invasive species
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Necropsies show ALL market frogs and turtles to be diseased and/or parasitized.
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