Why It Matters: Exotic invasive species that are kept as pets, such as the Burmese python, the Argentine tegu in Georgia, and others, are often released and can quickly become invasive to local and regional ecosystems. Once populations become established, many outcompete and otherwise cause serious damage to native wildlife populations.
- On September 30, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in support of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division’s (WRD) proposed expansion to their Wild Animal List.
- This expansion would prohibit the importation, transportation, sale, transfer, and possession of several invasive species that pose a risk to Georgia’s native wildlife.
- In particular, CSF supported the addition of the Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) to the list, as populations of this omnivorous reptile have become established in certain areas of the state.
Argentine black and white tegus can negatively impact the success of ground nesting game birds, such as the bobwhite quail and eastern wild turkey, due to their propensity to raid nests. The WRD’s proposal to have current pet tegus tagged and registered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division, in addition to prohibiting the importation or breeding of these animals after the effective date of the rule, strikes a good balance in respecting pet owners and working to ensure the conservation of Georgia’s native wildlife species.
The passage of this proposed expansion to the Wild Animal List would be a step in the right direction to conserving game bird populations important to sportsmen and women in the Peach State.
In 2021 alone, the sporting community contributed over $64 million to conservation funding through the “user pays—public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
CSF will continue to monitor the WRD’s proposed expansion and will continue to advocate on behalf of the state’s sportsmen and women.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?