Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reducing the Risk of Biological Invasion

"Reducing the Risk of Biological Invasion by Creating Incentives for Pet Sellers and Owners to Do the Right Thing" is an article by Gad Perry and Michael Farmer in the Journal of Herpetology. They focused their study on reptiles and amphibians but intend this to stand as a model for the entire exotic pet and ornamental plant trade. They also recommend focusing primarily on a local level rather than at a national level. They propose collecting funds from the trade to apply specifically to support quote, "(1) a national resource center offering information and training; (2) programs to professionalize local education and response teams, focusing on pet store owners, hobbyist organizations, and first responders; (3) an incentive program to encourage pet stores to take back unwanted animals; (4) a tracking system for identifying and penalizing owners of newly released animals; and (5) a rapid-response system to address newly reported invasives. Participation by local entities helps them avoid uniform policies from the national level that are typically both more onerous and less effective. To provide an additional incentive for the industry at large to participate in the process, the level of taxation could decrease as problems diminish." While this may raise red flags in some groups, what they have to say makes a lot of sense. One point they make is that importing exotic plants and animals will continue because there is money to be made from it. What the authors propose is a multidimensional approach which brings together the pet trade, hobbyists, local enthusiast groups, such as the Dallas–Fort Worth Herpetological Society and local public officials to work together towards a solution. To read the entire article click here.

Python in the Everglades, photo by Lisa Jameson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife,