Millions if not billions of turtles and frogs are imported into California to be sold in the live animal markets for human consumption. Those unfit to eat manage to find their way, through the distributors, into the pet trade where they can be purchased at swap meets, in alleys and at flea markets. It is unlawful to sell the turtles if their shell diameters are less than four inches, so legitimate retail dealers often don't carry them. Many of these non-native frogs and turtles find their way into our ponds and adversely impact our native species (marine life, migratory birds and mammals that drink the water) in our ecosystems. Most carry salmonella which can be transferred to people and life threatening to children who touch them. All suffer cruelly on this journey. From capture, to transport, to sordid shop conditions to being flayed while still alive these animals are in constant misery. We prosecuted one of the largest animal cruelty cases in the world, which involved 2000 turtles and an importer with a forged Department of Fish and Game permit. (The Department of Fish and Game actually renewed his permit while he sat in prison!)
For the past decade we have campaigned for a total ban on frog and turtle imports. The Fish & Game Commission finally issued a partial ban affecting only those used for food but not those involved in the pet trade. Immediately, the politicians jumped in to rescue the live animal market business constituents by exerting their influence on the Commission members. (See exactly who in this link: http://spcalapresident.blogspot.com/2010/05/stop-rescission-of-import-ban-on-frogs.html )
Unfortunately, the Commission just voted to restore the importations. The motion to reverse the ban passed 3-1 with one abstention and only Commissioner Richards supporting the animals.
Please express your concern to those legislators (emails in link above) and the Commission President, Jim Kellogg, firstname.lastname@example.org who seem fine with the fact that the Department of Fish & Game is abdicating its responsibility and legal mandate to protect our native species from exogenous threats.
Political hackdom 1 - Animal kingdom 0
We all lose on this one.