Scientists want an immediate ban on salamanders import. Foreign salamanders are carrying a deadly fungus called Bsal
Salamander’s fauna in North America is at a high risk of extinction.
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Each year, thousands of salamanders are taken from different parts of the world to US soil. Those salamanders are bringing a deadly fungus with them. The fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or Bsal, kills almost every salamander it infects.
A new research urges authorities to ban the import of salamanders. The step is necessary for stopping the spread of fungus and for saving US salamanders.
The invasion of Bsal can lead to the extinction of US salamander fauna, which is world’s richest and diverse fauna of its kind.
Bsal was first discovered in 2013 and was killing a rare species of salamander in Netherlands. The fungus was also found in Belgium and Asia and pet trade is the likely reason of the spread.
Almost haft of the salamander species live in North and Central America. If the import continues, it can become a huge threat for US salamanders. It may end up wiping them off from this part of the world.
“This is the hot bed in the world for diversity of amphibians, and if that fungus gets here, it’s going to be devastating.” Vance Vrendenburg, lead author of the study told Live Science.
Bsal spreads through skin like Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) (a fungus dangerous for frog species). The fungus thickens the skin, causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalance and ultimately heart attack.
Vrendenburg studied Bd for decades and he know exactly how it effects. “I’ve just seen devastation on a scale that is unbelievable, tens of thousands of animals dying in front of me.”
US imports 99% salamanders from Asia. The continent is a home to Bsal. Researchers found that 768, 572 salamanders were carrying Bsal when they landed to US shores. Since Bsal is incurable, Vrendenburg and his colleges at Francisco State University are calling for US Fish and Wildlife Service to put an immediate ban on live salamander import.
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“We need to take this seriously and we need to do everything we can now to prevent its (fungus) introduction.”