A solution to our biological crisis


I was pleased to see the sobering article by Emily Guerin, "Crisis biology," regarding the fungal diseases now wiping out the world's amphibians and bats (HCN, 2/17/14). Here in California, we import some 2 million American bullfrogs for human consumption, sold mostly in the state's many "Chinatown" live-animal food markets. The majority of the market frogs test positive for the deadly chytrid fungus described in the article. These frogs are often bought by "do-gooders" and religious sects and released into local waters, where they prey upon and displace our native species. The non-native bullfrogs do not generally succumb to the fungus, but they certainly do disperse it. The European Union and Australia now allow the importation of only frozen frog legs for human consumption. California and the U.S. should do the same.

Since 1994, we've been trying to convince the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop issuing permits for the market frogs (and turtles). All are diseased and/or parasitized, though the law forbids such sales. Sadly, political and cultural politics are currently trumping environmental and public health concerns.

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