Ban on salamander imports could fend off deadly fungus

In order to deal with deadly fungus named Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, scientists from California are calling for a ban on salamander imports. A lot of damage has already been caused by the Bsal fungus inside Europe.

A ban is necessary on salamander imports, says biologist from the San Francisco State University, Vance Vredenburg along with one of his graduate students Tiffany Yap and colleagues from Berkeley, the University of California. They have urged the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to impose the ban on salamander imports until a plan is implemented to detect and prevent the fungus spread.

According to Vredenburg, the threat is imminent and a policy could prove really beneficial by providing a way to avoid a significant catastrophe.

Between the years 2010 and 2014, 75% of one million salamanders were imported inside the United States. What is worrisome is the fact that 99% of them came from Asia where the fungus originated from.

The main carriers of the Bsal deadly fungus are believed to be the Vietnamese salamander or Tam Dao, also known as Paramesotriton deloustali, the Japanese fire belied newt, also known as Cynops pyrrhogaster and the blue tailed fire bellied newt, also known as Cynops cyanurus.

North America imported 91% of the salamanders from either the Paramesotriton or the Cynops groups.

The scientists who voiced for ban on salamander import say that the salamanders in Asia have a higher tolerance to the fungus, but the disease is lethal in more vulnerable parts of the world.

"The potential for bureaucratic delays is very real and worrisome, as Bsal could arrive within the USA any day", said Peter Jenkins, Center for Invasive Species Prevention president.