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Podcast: Can policy prevent a North American salamander pandemic?

A red-backed (left) cozies up with a Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah). Image courtesy of Ann and Rob Simpson (CC-BY-2.0).

  • The United States is home to the world’s greatest diversity of salamanders, so experts are worried about another pandemic that is headed for the country, one that has salamanders in its sights.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed a ban on the trade of 201 salamander species in 2016. However, the recent discovery that frogs can also carry Bsal has led scientists to urge the American government to ban the import of all salamander and frog species.
  • On this bonus episode of the podcast we speak with two experts about animal trade policy, differences in the way the United States conducts this policy from other nations, and what the U.S. might do to more effectively combat the threat.
  • Former Program Manager for the Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies, Priya Nanjappa, and Tiffany Yap, a Staff Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, share their thoughts on how policy and regulation could head off the looming salamander pandemic.

The U.S. is home to the world’s highest diversity of salamander species, many of which are thought to be susceptible to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or ‘Bsal’ for short. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed a ban on the trade of 201 salamander species in 2016. However, the recent discovery that frogs can also carry Bsal has led scientists to urge the American government to ban the import of all salamander and frog species.

On this episode of the podcast, host Mike DiGirolamo speaks with Priya Nanjappa, former Program Manager for the Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies, and Tiffany Yap, a Staff Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, about animal trade policy, differences in the way the United States conducts this policy from other nations, and what the U.S. might do to more effectively combat the threat.

Listen here:

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More reading from Mongabay on this topic:

A red-backed (left) cozies up with a Shenandoah salamander (right). Image courtesy of Ann and Rob Simpson (CC-BY-2.0).

 

If you missed episode 1 of this series, listen to our conversation with Dr. Karen Lips, “Are we ready?” here:

Episode 2 discussed the huge salamander diversity in North America, and the U.S. in particular, and explored reasons for this great richness:

The third episode discusses how researchers are searching for Bsal:

Episode four discussed how Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are working together to manage and mitigate the damage of the potential pandemic.

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