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Governor Newsom: Ban Live Animal Food Markets In California

This petition had 3,650 supporters

"Unless somebody like YOU cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." - The Lorax, Dr Seuss


The new coronavirus disease COVID-19, has infected more than 37 million people around the world leaving more than a million dead - and these numbers are going to continue to rise. In US alone, the death toll now stands at 214,000+ with more deaths projected by winter. 

Just like the previous widespread epidemics like SARS (which killed 774 people in 2002-2003,) MERS (858 deaths since 2012,) Ebola (11,300 deaths in 2013-2016,) and now COVID-19, which is the deadliest by far, have one thing in common - they all have spread from animal-to-human transmission, most emerging from live food animal markets or "wet markets" in China. These markets contain animals - dead and live, wild and domestic - all crammed cheek-to-jowl with the human population. Add in the facts that very often these markets are poorly regulated, illegal animal trade is commonplace, and live butchering of animals is frequent (therefore, the term "wet market") - this is a serious disaster that has been waiting to unfold. 

But these markets are not just restricted to within the walls of China. They very much have a home in California. 

California annually imports some 2 million non-native American bullfrogs for human consumption (commercially-raised). Plus an additional 300,000 to 400,000 non-native freshwater turtles, all taken from the wild in states East of the Rockies, depleting local populations. 

Most of the frogs are imported by Oakland wholesalers for distribution throughout California. These live animal food markets are common in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and Los Angeles, among other cities. Frogs and turtles are routinely stacked four-and-five deep, without food or water; many butchered while fully conscious.

The animals that escape being skinned alive are often illegally released into the wild, where they prey upon and displace species native & vital to California. Worse, the majority of the bullfrogs (60+ %) test positive for the dreaded chytrid fungus (Batrachrochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd), which has caused the extinctions of 200+ species of frogs and other amphibians worldwide in recent years. Some 30 necropsies on the market frogs and turtles document that all these animals are diseased and/or parasitized, though it is illegal to sell such products--diseases such as E. coli, salmonella and pasturella (all potentially fatal in humans), plus cases of giardia and blood parasites.

While it's taken this immense unfolding tragedy to bring the live animal food markets into sharp focus, Action for Animals and similar organizations have been working on restricting/banning these markets for decades now. Together, we have been urging the California Department of Fish & Wildlife since the mid-1990's to cease issuing import permits for live, non-native frogs and turtles for human consumption. The Dept of Fish & Wildlife and Fish & Game Commission has received more than 5,000 letters and emails in support of the ban, from sporting groups, wildlife organizations, animal welfare groups and the general public. The late Judge William Newsom (Gov. Newsom's father) wrote in support of the ban, as did former Resources Secretary Huey Johnson (twice) - all to no avail.

"The message we are getting is if we don't take care of nature, it will take care of us." - Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

As the number of infected and dead due to COVID-19 keeps increasing, we are now faced with the undisputed fact that we have reached a tipping point in our interaction with animals - it is very clear that this pandemic shows how interwoven our actions are.

We need a strong state wide as well as a global response to break this vicious cycle. Horrendously cruel and extremely hazardous to human health, these markets need to be closed down - in California as well as around the globe. 

Please urge Governor Newsom to take timely action so that we can prevent future pandemics & save both humans and non - humans alike. 

We have the data. 
We have the insight. 
It's time to act & close these markets. Forever. 


Image Source: Brent Frazee

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