Wildlife Trade is an industry that revolves around transport of animals to be utilized for multiple goods and services. The demand for live animals varies in different areas of the world, but the bottom line is that animals are traded A LOT. The figure below shows the number of animals imported into JUST the USA from 1999-2010. Pretty crazy, right?
With all of this trade going on there is bound to be consequences - animals are lost or escape from shipments. The release of these traded animals results in the spread of diseases. Chytrid fungus and rainavirus are decimating native amphibian populations, and both were spread due to the trade of wildlife. Not only can these diseases impact other animals, but the SARS virus and Avian flu are both diseases spread by animals to humans.
Trade of animals occurs legally and illegally, and can result in over exploitation of wild populations. The trade industry is unsustainable, and it is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. An even bigger threat to biodiversity is the invasion of nonnative species - a threat that is directly linked to the trade of wildlife. The trade of wildlife has increased gradually over many years, as illustrated in the figure below, which means nonnative introductions has increased as well.
I have hammered the threats posed by nonnative species in previous posts, especially when the nonnative species becomes an invasive one. Invasive species are any species (plants, animals, any organism) that cause economical damage, ecological damage, or threaten human health. The USA spends over $137 billion every year to manage these introduced animals even with all the regulations in place to monitor trade.
There are several policies that exist to protect wildlife from trade including:
- The Endangered SPecies Act
-Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITIES)
-Migratory Bird Act
-Wild Bird Conservation Act
These, along with various regulations at the state level, are put in place to prevent introduction, but it is not so simple. There is much man power, money, and time that is needed to dedicate for preventing introduction of species - and there is a lack of money to pay for the man power to monitor ALL of the shipments and trade involving flora and fauna; not to mention any escaped or released pets.
The demand for live animal trade is desired all over the world - from food to boots to ancient medicinal cures, live animals are wanted everywhere. This wildlife trade has introduced many species all over the world, not just in the USA. Australia, England, Guam, Japan, China, Puerto Rico, and many other countries are experiencing the impacts of nonnative specie introductions. The wildlife trade will never be shut down, but the depletion of wild animals will surly cause the market to crash.
I encourage the purchase of captive-bred (CB) animals. Although hard to find for some unique species, captive bred pets do not support the wildlife trade or depletion of wild populations. Every little bit of effort counts, support your local breeders!
*****This post has adapted a powerpoint presentation given by Dr. Christina Romagosa on wildlife trade. The information provided is my summary of her presentation that was given to a college Conservation Biology course earlier this year.*****
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Ferrets and Friends, LLC has four writers bringing you information on a variety of topics from pets to wildlife, education to conservation, and from new developments in our business to information about our industry. Learn something new each week!