Diseases to both humans and wild animals could flood into Norway on a tide of imported exotic animals, claim Norwegian and British animal protection experts.
Groups lobbying for better animal protection on both sides of the North Sea today gave an urgent plea to the Norwegian government not to change laws to allow sales of exotic reptiles and amphibians in the country and suffer deadly outcomes - as already seen in Britain
UK-based organisations have teamed up with a Norwegian animal protection group to commission a 65-page scientific report, just released. Opposition to a proposal to lift a long-term ban on the trade and private ownership of reptiles and amphibians in Norway is based on three main findings:
Threat to wild animals
The new threat could bring pandemic wildlife diseases that have only recently been identified in Britain. These diseases kill established species and are costly to contain. 'Norden', the body representing the wider Scandinavia group of countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) has circulated an alert for a 'serious new threat to Nordic [wild\ amphibians', drawing attention to the two diseases that have spread into Britain and elsewhere in Europe as a result of animal trade. In opening the trade, the Norwegian government may even be acting unlawfully in contravention to Article 6 of the Berne Convention under which it is obliged to protect its native wild fauna.
Human health hazard
Every twenty days a person dies in developed Europe/North America from pathogens transmitted as a result of exotic reptiles in captivity. Over the same period around 800 people are hospitalized for up to a week or more at a cost of over £1 million. This includes two babies who have died in Britain over the last ten years. Does Norway really want to bring this home too?
Not good pets
Research shows that although not obviously alert, like cats and dogs, many captive reptiles suffer from stress and illness. Shutting them off in small tanks and boxes represents deprivation that is cruel but unnoticed. Most reptiles die within one year in captivity. In fact, the reptile industry has been compared to the 'cut flower' trade, as both industries are based on perishable commodities that are expected to die soon after purchase.
World expert in amphibians and reptiles (herpetofauna) consultant Tom Langton, who has represented the IUCN at the Standing Party of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats in Strasbourg (France) says:
Beyond disease and welfare issues, the proposal to open up an exotic pet trade in Norway would send the wrong education message through Europe, where children are encouraged to watch wildlife in their gardens and countryside. The Norwegian government may not be aware that several European countries envy Norway's current position and are aiming towards lower consumption of wild and captive-bred animals. More....