Save Salamanders From Skin-eating Fungus

Whether black-bellied or red-backed, blue- or white-spotted, gray-cheeked or four-toed, all of America's nearly 200 salamander species now face a new threat with potentially disastrous consequences.

A deadly skin-eating fungus called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (literally "devouring salamanders"), or Bsal, is spreading like wildfire in Europe and could soon jump to the United States through the pet trade.

With a mortality rate of 96 percent, the new fungus has practically wiped out fire salamanders in the Netherlands. Lab tests show that the fungus is fatal to American salamanders, and infected salamanders have been documented in the pet trade.

Once the disease enters wild populations, it'll be near-impossible to stop.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the power to prevent this invasion. Under the Lacey Act, the agency can suspend the import of all salamanders unless screened with a DNA test.

Take action today -- urge the Service to protect our salamanders from this disease and avoid the same terrible fate that has ravaged our frogs and bats.
I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to prevent the spread of yet another deadly wildlife disease throughout the United States.

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A recently published study in "Science" ("Recent introduction of a chytrid fungus endangers Western Palearctic salamanders") documents a new threat to the world's amphibians from a deadly skin-eating fungus called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal. While the new fungus is already wreaking havoc on salamanders in Europe, it hasn't yet reached the United States.

Under the Lacey Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should suspend all imports of salamanders into the country unless they're certified free of this fungus. Scientists have already developed a DNA-based test for detecting Bsal, and infected animals held in captivity can be effectively treated with antifungal baths. Once the disease enters wild populations, it'll be nearly impossible to stop its spread.

Along with the white-nose syndrome that's wiping out millions of our bats, chytrid fungus shows the devastating impacts of wildlife diseases introduced by humans. Please do everything in your power to stop this threat.


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