Position Statement on Research with Live Bsal Cultures

Due to the potential negative effects of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) on populations of susceptible host species and the need for cooperative research to maximize the pace of knowledge discovery, the following standard operating procedures were agreed upon by the Bsal Task Force in the USA. To ensure the locations of live Bsal cultures used for research are known and because Bsal has not been isolated in North America, the Bsal Task Force states that all live Bsal cultures used for research must be obtained directly from Drs. Frank Pasmans or An Martel at the University of Ghent, Belgium, using a traditional Material Transfer Agreement. As required, all necessary import and export permits must be obtained. Furthermore, to ensure that Bsal remains contained in research facilities outside of its endemic regions, the pathogen must be handled by trained professionals, and research protocols must adhere to at least Biosafety Level 2 criteria. Following completion of research, live Bsal organisms should be destroyed by heat treatment or by immersion in >10% bleach solution.

Press Releases

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is recommending that all exporters, shippers, importers and buyers of Cynops orientalis (Firebelly) and Pachytriton labiatus (Paddletail) newts immediately establish a voluntary moratorium on importing them into the United States. We further recommend that all non-retail businesses engaged in the salamander trade regularly sanitize their facilities as a prophylactic measure, as treatments are developed, out of an abundance of caution. READ MORE

The USFWS published an interim rule regarding Bsal on January 13, 2016. This rule took effect on January 28, 2016. The rule was published to prevent the transmission of Bsal into the United States, or among States, by listing 201 species of salamanders as injurious wildlife species, some of which are currently in the pet trade, under the Lacey Act. The interim rule prohibits importation or interstate transport of the listed salamander species (live, dead, or parts).

The public comment period is currently open and will remain so through March 14, 2016 (http://www.regulations.gov; docket no. FWS-HW-FAC-2015-0005).

The permit application for transport of listed species can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-42.pdf or http://www.fws.gov/permits

More information, including Q&A, may be found at: http://www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/salamanders.html

A deadly fungus causing population crashes in wild European salamanders could emerge in the United States and threaten already declining amphibians here, according to a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. READ MORE

The areas of the United States that are most at risk of a potentially invasive salamander fungus are the Pacific coast, the southern Appalachian Mountains and the mid-Atlantic regions, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey report.

These findings can help managers protect already declining amphibians in the U.S. from the Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, fungus. Bsal is decimating wild salamander populations in Europe and could emerge in the U.S. through the captive amphibian trade. The new USGS study identifies areas of the U.S. with high likelihoods of two risks: Bsal introduction and severe consequences for local salamanders. READ MORE

The Amphibian Survival Alliance has posted a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service written by a group of scientists, conservation organizations and professional societies urging the service to institute a moratorium on amphibian imports until a system is in place to ensure imports are free of Bsal and other diseases.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is pleased to announce a new Bsal Rapid Response Plan developed to address the emerging threat posed by the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or Bsal. Although this lethal pathogen has not yet been detected in North America, experts believe that the chance of a future outbreak is high and may severely impact many of our nearly 200 species of salamanders and the ecosystems they inhabit.