From the Susquehannock Wildlife Society:
(Bel Air, MD) – – In a few days, thousands of people will gather in downtown Bel Air to enjoy the town’s annual Fourth of July festivities. But this Independence Day, the Susquehannock Wildlife Society is urging the public to reconsider participating in two of those events, as the organization calls for the Bel Air Independence Day Committee and Bel Air Kiwanis to end their traditional Turtle Derby and Frog Jumping contests.
These races, while part of the local celebration for decades, appear fun for the reptiles and amphibians involved, but the sad truth is that they’re likely running for their lives. Disease and inadvertent mistreatment of the animals have taken their toll on many of the species involved and threaten the future of local wildlife. Together, let’s help the Bel Air Kiwanis make this year’s Turtle Derby and Frog Jumping Contest the best and the last of its kind.
Deadly diseases such as Ranavirus are easily transmitted when animals come in contact with one another, especially during stressful situations. These frogs and turtles “race” because they are frightened and their natural instinct tells them to find a place to hide from potential predators. Creating stressful situations for these animals for our amusement is both dangerous and cruel.
Most of the animals used for these races are taken from the wild. Some are rare and declining species that are never returned, while others are not released into the same areas they were found. Reptiles and amphibians are also known to carry a variety of diseases and bacteria that can create a high potential for illness in humans coming in contact with them. In Maryland, it is illegal to possess certain wild species or to possess more than a certain quantity of other species. It is also illegal to release a wild animal that has been kept in captivity if it has been in contact with any other reptiles or amphibians.
The Susquehannock Wildlife Society’s efforts to replace these races with family-friendly, wildlife-themed events were rejected by the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, which decided to proceed despite the warnings of state biologists, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitors, and other professionals. Nevertheless, the organization remains eager to offer its support and assistance to any group interested in replacing the wildlife events.
The Susquehannock Wildlife Society urges Bel Air Kiwanis, the sponsor of this year’s races, to announce this week that the Turtle Derby and Frog Jumping contests will not be returning in 2014, and to place Bel Air on the leading edge of a positive environmental and ethical trend that is spreading across the country.
Happy Independence Day and celebrate safely; all creatures great and small.
For more information about this or other local wildlife issues, contact the Susquehannock Wildlife Society at 443-333-WILD (-9453) or visit our web site at http://www.suskywildlife.org.