The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) today recommended that all exporters, shippers, importers and buyers establish a voluntary moratorium on importing two Asian newts into the United States. The two species are the firebelly newt (Cynops orientalis) and the paddletail newt (Pachytriton labiatus).
The reason for this recommendation is concern over the fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal fungus. The fungus is native to Asia but has been found to impact salamander populations in Belgium and The Netherlands. There is concern that Bsal could be introduced to the United States and affect native salamanders.
There is currently no test or treatment regimen for Bsal, although government, industry, NGOs and academia are working to develop them. Until such time as these can be developed and distributed, the threat to the U.S. salamander populations dictates that the responsible course of action is to temporarily suspend imports of firebelly and paddletail newts.
According to PIJAC’s statement, should such a pathogen be introduced to the United States, it could result in the end of responsible ownership of these animals entirely. PIJAC will continue to communicate with the industry about progress being made and announce when it is once again safe to import these newts, and what steps to take in order to do so safely.
PIJAC also recommends that all non-retail businesses engaged in the salamander trade regularly sanitize their facilities as a prophylactic measure, out of an abundance of caution.
PIJAC asks that pet retailers remind their customers that pets of any type should never be released into the wild.