RAUK - Archived Forum - Giant Bullfrogs Still Being Imported

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Giant Bullfrogs Still Being Imported:

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GemmaJF
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Posted: 20 Oct 2003
Giant Bullfrogs Still Being Imported


http://www.news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2069435
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Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
GemmaJF
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Posted: 20 Oct 2003
Fears of giant American frog plague after illegal importation

http://www.sundayherald.com/37538

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jays herps
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Posted: 06 Dec 2004

you say there are giant bull frogs still being imported, well in the lincolnshire area there are wild fire salamanders that some how got here. they are producing rapidly problem or not i dont no? my only worry is that the native newts to are country might have to compete with the fire salamanders.if you have seen any fire salamanders in britain please write back. 


jason,west
herpetologic2
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004

 

Errr dont fire salamanders live with our native amphibians in Europe? I am not saying that we shouldnt monitor them etc etc but the North American Bullfrogs coming into the country are a real problem - and what do we do with the ones that are already here (before the ban) and are breeding or are being bred in back gardens - Froglife had a call from a lady in Essex who has been breeding these frogs for the last ten years!!!!


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Caleb
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004
According to a paper in the latest BHS Journal, it seems likely that American Bullfrogs can act as a vector for the chytrid fungus that's been implicated in worldwide amphibian declines, without suffering any ill effects themselves. Could be very nasty.

I was under the impression that the vast majority of bullfrog tadpoles that have come into the country (even when there was no import ban) came in accidentally with shipments of plants or fish from the US, and were sold on incidentally. I don't think it's illegal to sell them even now.

I'd be interested to hear more about the Lincolnshire fire salamanders- I've heard of people breeding them in outdoor enclosures, but I'm sceptical about them establishing themselves in the wild, mainly because they reproduce in such small quantities.
David Bird
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004
The Bullfrog Tadpoles never seemed to be brought in by the Herpetofauna pet trade but by the Aquatic pet trade which does have a few species of Amphibia and was also responsible for the main imports of Red eared slider terrapins in the past so all the badgering of reptile shop owners was aimed at the wrong suspects. The West African clawed toad Xenopus tropicalis, Dwarf clawed toad or congo toad Hymenochirus sp. Albino Clawed toad Xenopus laevis Caecilians often labelled Sicillian worms Typhlonectes sp. Red bellied or Japanese newts Cynops and related genera all seem to be imported mainly by the Aquatic pet trade and turn up in shops or centres selling tropical fish or pond fish and plants. I have a feeling that the fish import boxes may not be opened and checked like reptile imports as most of the fish have been captive bred for numerous generations and not subject to CITES permits. Some of the species may actually be a pest species in the breeding ponds and an extra cash bonus for the fish farmer.

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jays herps
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004
i keep fire salamnders myself and just one of my fire salamnders has and can give birth to about 300 live young every year,i do not think the wild fire salamnder are doing anything wrong but the native british newts might have to compete for breeding ponds and food.does any body no of any other amphibian or reptile living in britain that shudent be i would be very interested to know.
jason,west
jays herps
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004
i no this isnt the subject but the common lizard (viviparious lizard) is becoming rarer by the day and not much is done about it. im not to sure about the reptile laws so i will ask my question and figure out my question from your replies. is it illegal to breed these lizard in captivity if you are not selling the young? i have heard from some people that you can only keep viviparious if they are from captive bred stock?its just i would do anything posible to keep the common lizard numbers up i just dont no what is legal and whats not. thank you for your time.
jason,west
GemmaJF
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Posted: 07 Dec 2004
Jason, it is not illegal to keep viviparous lizards and breed them. I'm not entirely sure about selling the young; though think broadly if they are of captive bred origin, you can sell them. This doesn't include those simply born in captivity, say if a gravid female was caught then produced young. (If anyone else can clarify this, further please feel free)

I would not recommend collecting them from the wild, though technically, it isn't illegal if you have the landowners permission to collect them and do not intend to sell them.

Though it is often tempting to think that captive breeding would solve conservation problems, it has many drawbacks. Though I am sure that viviparous lizards have declined in numbers my own survey work would suggest that they are holding their own at many sites where they are not disturbed, we even have a few in our back garden and that backs onto an arable field, not usually thought of as great reptile habitat. I was very pleased to find this year that viviparous lizards were present at every site I surveyed in Essex and in good numbers at some sites.

It is better to survey for those that are in the wild and do something about it, such as getting some form of site protection for good and exceptional populations, as the real threat to them is habitat loss.

Captive breeding is probably best reserved for our most endangered species such as the Sand Lizard for now.
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herpetologic2
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

 

I would like to draw your attention to the Wildlife and Countryside Act which states

(5) If any person -

(a) sells, offers, or exposes for sale, or has in his possession or transports for the purpose of sale any live or dead wild animal included in Schedule 5 (Frog, toad, lizard, slowworm, adder, grass snake etc) or any part of or anything derived from such an animal; or

(b) publishes or causes to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that he buys or sells or intends to buy or sell, any of those things,

He shall be GUILTY of an offence

So in theory you may have already breached the legislation as you have advertised on RAUK that you intend to breed the lizards - and if you cannot prove they are not for sale then you may expect a visit from the fuzz - (hmmmm unlikely). I once found a pet shop in Portsmouth that thought it would be a good side line to sell Common Toad Tadpoles - in small bags next to the daphina and blood worm - it was called Arundel Birds & Birds - (pop in and check next spring) but I called the RSPCA and the Police and they promptly stopped this illegal sale of Common Toads! (another police action)

Any captive bred stock would have to have been captured prior to the 1981 act and maintained in captivity for 23 years - so any lizards which can be taken, and kept cannot be considered as captive bred stock - You would need a license from English Nature to sell them. I feel that it would be impossible to obtain such a license.

Viviparous lizards like other reptiles do not do well in captivity - and I would support Gemma's recommendations - I would also add that we need to protect habitats from developers, and other forms of unsympathetic management - which also includes conservationists dream visions of habitat restoration, management and recreation

I find that relatively undisturbed grassland is the best sort of habitat for viviparous lizards - they can build up good numbers in a relatively short amount of time - they naturally go through booms and busts in often small areas - it is important to ensure that habitat connectivity is maintained so when an extinction occurs other colonies can repopulate.

JC 


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herpetologic2
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

Oh and another thing

Reptile shops are still selling amphibians and reptiles such as

Marsh Frogs, Alpine Newts, Fire Salamanders, Marbled Newts, Green Lizards, Terrapins, Cane Toads, African Bullfrogs, Midwife Toads etc

and there is no guidance on the legality of releasing some of these animals into gardens - Section 14 WCA 1981 - People often buy these animals on impulse and soon get fed up with them and dump them into their garden pond, nearest nature reserve or elsewhere - The pet shops should give advice that this should not happen -

We now have a good population of Alpine Newts in Basildon along with Pool Frogs, Fire Bellied Toads, and European Tree Frogs!!!

JC


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Caleb
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004
JC- it's not quite true that 'captive-bred' stock would need to originate from animals captured before 1981.

The wildlife & countryside act distinguishes between 'captive reared' and 'captive bred' animals- an animal born in captivity is 'captive reared' if either parent is wild caught, and 'captive bred' if both parents are either captive reared or captive bred.

So in theory, it's possible to capture viv lizards, breed them in captivity for two generations, and sell the F2 offspring without any need for licences.

There are a few people who legally sell native amphibians this way.
herpetologic2
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

Does it only apply to Fully protected species then?

I would also say that you cannot sell any native amphibian or reptile whether it was captive bred or not because you cannot take animals for the intention of selling them - You would have to prove that the animals were born in captivity - the act assumes that the animals are wild - so if you cannot prove they were born in captivity then you can now be arrested for selling these animals - amendment under the CROW Act 2000

This would make an interesting court case as collecting animals from the wild with the intention to sell is, i believe to be an offence under the WCA 1981 (as amended) even it is a second generation of animals that is being sold - A possible loop hole which needs to be closed -

The selling of native amphibians for stocking ponds as was suggested in BBC Wildlife Magazine is a cause for concern. They even printed the contact addresses of people who could supply native amphibians!

The same publication has written extensively on the problem of Frog Diseases such as Frog Mortality and red leg disease. I understand that these disease affect captive amphibians due to the enclosed conditions etc -This small trade has the potential to spread infection across the country. This is something that should be stopped - if we are concerned with the diseases from Alien species such as the North American Bullfrog then we should think about the trade in UK amphibians as this could potentially worsen the situation.

 

 

 

 

 


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Caleb
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004
As I understand it, it's the same for fully protected species. The act (as you quoted) says 'wild animal', and thus captive bred specimens are exempted (this is clarified elsewhere in the Act).

As to the question of taking animals with the intention of selling them, I wasn't aware this was a specific offence, was it added in the CROW act? I haven't been able to find a reference.

I would have thought that the 'intention to sell' related to the individual animals, and not their offspring (or offspring's offspring). If it's unclear in the wording of the legislation, then a legal precedent would need to be set (which would obviously depend on a prosecution being brought).

Yes, the onus is on the keeper to prove that stock is captive bred. I'm not sure how the keeper would go about this, other than by keeping breeding records, and having records of where the stock originated. I think Dave Bird mentioned a prosection where a keeper successfully proved their sand lizards were CB- I'd be interested to hear more about this.

In most other EU countries, there are licensing systems which apply to CB animals from species controlled under the Habitat & Species Directive. As I understand it, trade is legal where these documents are exchanged along with the animals, and keepers have to register any offspring they produce.

I'd agree that it is a little worrying that amphibians are ending up in garden ponds on the other side of the country from which they originated. I think it's a bit unfair to imply that CB amphibians are infested with red-leg and 'frog mortality', though.
GemmaJF
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

I would go along with Caleb's interpretation, it appears that if one legally collected viviparous lizard with no intention of selling the collected individuals, one could in theory sell any 'captive bred offspring' as by definition they are not 'wild animals' and therefore not covered in the WCA. This is the way I've always interpreted the law.

It is tempting to think that captive rearing would solve all the conservation problems of native herps, I think in reality it would be difficult to raise the tiny offspring satisfactorily and the problems of low genetic variability would soon creep in. Add to this the risks of introducing new disease into wild populations. I would prefer to spend hours hunting for lizards in the wild and writing letters to Wildlife Trusts and LPAs to captive rearing any day.

I think Jason was originally asking is it illegal to breed viviparous lizards in captivity if he has no intention of selling them.. the answer would be no not all. If it was intended to sell them one would have to be careful to comply with the WCA and this would most likely mean having some means of proving the animals were actually CB and not captive reared/WC.

I do share concerns that amphibians sold in garden centers all to often end up in the wild. I've seen alpine newts for sale where it was clear they were being sold to stock garden ponds.. clearly the buyer commits an offence under the WCA as soon as they release them into a garden that isn't 'escape proof'. (I know no garden is truly escape proof, but that is the wording used in the WCA)

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GemmaJF
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

Jon, I agree with your concerns about the selling of native amphibians for garden ponds. Most instances of redleg I've witnessed have been in small enclosed gardens where the frogs were clearly under population stress (overcrowding) or stressed due to a lack of cover/food. Redleg was I believe first described in captive specimens and though I do not oppose the keeping of herps in captivity, there is no doubt that a nervous species such as Rana temporaria does experience increased stress levels when captive.

The fact is there is no need to be captive rearing the widespread species and it has no conservation value at all, so why take any risk of introducing disease into wild populations from captive bred animals.


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herpetologic2
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

 

I think it is perfectly fair to suggest that the movement of animals from captive populations can be a source of infection for wild populations - why are we worried about the North American Bullfrog if there is no risk of this happening? In any captive situation no matter how clean you think your apparatus is there will always be some viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi within the system and if these are transported with animals, plants, and even water then this can be a source of infection into other distant populations of amphibians which are not immune to the new infection.

Red leg was indeed found in captive populations and it is an infection that can wipe out captive collections - mainly due to the close proximty of animals to infected animals - rather like any disease control programme isolation is the key to help prevent it- look at the Foot and Mouth crisis to see how not to manage a disease -

I still feel that people should not sell native amphibians for seeding garden ponds or any pond for that matter - As most guides would say build your pond and leave it the frogs and newts will find it themselves you just have to be patient

JC 


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herpetologic2
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

 

So how do you take the fully protected species into captivity as this would be a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - you cannot take Natterjacks, Crested Newts, sand lizards, or smooth snakes - you need a license to take them and so only animals that were taken prior to the WCA 1981 can be legally captive bred surely

Any of these animals taken from the wild post WCA 1981 would have to be licensed - I have a disturbance license from English Nature and I can also possess these animals for 24 hours for educational purposes - I cannot breed them or sell them

JC


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Caleb
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Posted: 08 Dec 2004
JC- There are people who have been granted licenses in the past to collect GCN and natterjacks and who now breed them in captivity. I'm not sure that EN would issue licences quite so freely these days.

There are other problems with the American Bullfrog than spread of disease, such as competition with and predation of native species.


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Posted: 08 Dec 2004

I totally agree that there is no need to seed garden ponds with captive bred animals. We built our pond in April, smooth newts and common frogs have found it and we are looking forward to seeing breeding populations in the spring.

We did move a small amount of tadpoles from a local toad pond with a huge populaton to seed the new pond. (It's a large pond for a garden and perhaps in time could support a small breeding population of toads). Though outside the natural home range of the donor population we have fears for its long-term future so believe it was justifiable.

I would say that if a garden pond fails to attract wild amphibians something is very wrong, it is either too isolated (I've lost count of the number of ponds I've seen with emaciated frogs in gardens surounded on all four sides by 6 ft fences) or there is not enough surrounding terrestrial habitat, in which case introducing captive bred animals is simply zoo keeping and of no real value.

I would have no objections to someone seeding a brand new pond with unwanted spawn from an adjoining garden for instance and there is certainly an argument for introducing spawn to increase genetic variance in garden complexes, the thought though of tadpoles being sold from a single source to seed dozens of garden ponds across the country does make me worry about disease transmission.


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- Giant Bullfrogs Still Being Imported

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