Newt and salamander lovers, take note: A disease that’s devastated amphibian populations in parts of Europe is almost certainly headed to the United States. “It’s a question of when, not if, this fungus reaches North America,” said University of Maryland researcher Carly Muletz, co-author of a recent study on the subject. This parasitic fungus, which originated in Asia and likely spread by way of the international animal trade, is driving hundreds of species of frogs toward extinction. The big concern is that the devastating infection, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, could make it out into the wild. “We’ve got to work toward controlling pathogens in the wildlife pet trade,” co-author Trent Garner, of the Zoological Society of London told the BBC. “Moving animals around moves their pathogens with them. Quite often in new situations, these pathogens have the weapons to overwhelm local hosts that haven’t been exposed.”
Fanged deer reappears
It’s aliiiiiiiiiive! Although the last reported sighting of the Kashmir musk deer was around 60 years ago, a Wildlife Conservation Society study confirms that these fanged beasts are still alive and kicking. Musk deer like the Kashmir (there are seven similar species that live around Asia) use their fangs during mating season to fight other males and impress females — not to suck blood. But unfortunately, musk deer are prized by poachers for their scent glands, which are worth over $20,000 a pound on the black market. The musk has been used in traditional medicines and perfumes for centuries. This particular species is now endangered as a result of intense poaching and habitat loss, and the last time a scientific team spotted one was back in 1948. In an Oct. 22 edition of the journal Oryx, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers reported five sightings. They saw one lone male in the same area three times, one female with a child, and one solitary female — which may have been the same deer without her young. The researchers report that the deer were difficult to spot, and couldn’t be photographed.
New protections for turtles?
Faced with growing concerns about the hunting of freshwater turtles in the United States for Asian food markets, federal officials this week proposed adding four species to an international list of plants and animals designed to manage commercial trade in the reptiles. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that listing the common snapping turtle, Florida soft-shell turtle, smooth soft-shell turtle and spiny soft-shell turtle would allow it to better monitor exportation of these species, particularly to Asian nations, where turtle populations have been wiped out due to high demand for their meat. Bringing the species under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora would require exporters to obtain a permit before shipping turtles overseas.