Staff file photo by Don Himsel
Rules proposed by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department would sharply limit who can own, sell or import several dozen native species of amphibians and reptiles, including salamanders (above), snakes, turtles, frogs and newts.
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|If you Go
|Public hearing on proposed rules changes concerning the importation, possession, propagation, and exhibition of non-game wild animals, including reptiles and amphibians.
WHERE: New Hampshire Fish and Game headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
ON THE NET: http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us
Does your third-grader want to do a show-and-tell with that red eft you found in the basement window well?
Do you want to keep a couple of brown snakes from the backyard in a terrarium?
Are you thinking about collecting painted turtles from the local wetlands and selling them online?
You might want to think again.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is proposing a rewrite of rules regarding native amphibians and reptiles that would sharply limit who can own, sell or import several dozen species of snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders and newts. (No lizards are involved, because New Hampshire doesn’t have any native lizards.)
The changes would not affect exotic reptiles and amphibians, those that are not native to New Hampshire. These species, such as iguanas or boa constrictors, can be popular as pets.
As a result, state wildlife biologist Mike Marchand said he doesn’t expect much opposition from pet stores.
“Pretty much all the ones I talked to don’t sell native reptiles and amphibians, so it wouldn’t affect their business in any way,” Marchand said.
Calls last week to Nashua area pet stores and to Zoo Creatures in Plaistow, probably the state’s biggest seller of reptiles, didn’t find anybody who was aware of the proposed changes.
Under the proposal, some rare and threatened species, such as the Jefferson salamander, common mudpuppy and Eastern hognose snake, only could be possessed by those with special exhibitor permits, which usually are limited to zoos, museums and educational facilities.
Other species, such as the red-spotted newt — usually known as the red eft — and the painted turtle, could be collected by anybody, but only in small numbers: five amphibians and two reptiles.
Marchand said the changes were designed by experts to bring the state’s rules for reptiles and amphibians in line with those on the books for mammals, birds and fish.
Massachusetts has similar rules, Marchand said, while Vermont’s rules are much stricter. The Green State forbids anybody from collecting any native reptile or amphibian.
He said it wasn’t clear whether a problem existed in New Hampshire from people collecting the species covered by the proposed rules, because data hasn’t been collected.
“There are reports from other states and even anecdotal reports from New Hampshire, people saying we saw someone with a lot of bags collecting a species, but we don’t know for certain,” Marchand said.
But reptiles and amphibians, particularly frogs, are the subject of global concern about species disappearance due to the spread of disease, often fungal, from place to place. Curtailing collection and transportation of wild animals might help lower that threat, Marchand said.
However, he said, “development and habitat loss is still by far the greatest threat to amphibians and reptiles – and most wildlife, in fact.”
David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or firstname.lastname@example.org.