First and foremost, I would like to officially apologize for causing a commotion on Joe Hickson’s forum Dendroboard on Friday, May 7th. I wrote a message without Joe’s permission, and the message was hastily written and I am certain it caused a lot of confusion and some paranoia. I also made that post under my brother’s user name without his permission. I had the best intentions when I made this post, but I was wrong to due so, and I apologize. I had no right to involve the Dendroboard community in this fiasco.
I hope most of you will understand that I made this post with the best of intentions. I was only trying to save the lives of the pumilio. As soon as Fish and Wildlife seized the shipment, it became clear that these frogs were not (under any circumstances) going to become anyone’s private property.
I was told by many people I respect that the frogs were most likely going to sit in their shipping containers for an undetermined amount while a decision could be reached concerning their final fate. I was also told that a good number of these animals would most likely die while awaiting their fate.
I had already planned a trip to Florida to offer my services (free of charge) to Glen to examine, run fecals, medicate, and offer advice. It was agreed upon in writing that all of the medical data I collected from this shipment was mine. The information, photos, test results, etc were not protected by any medical confidentiality rule. I would be able to publish them or use them as I saw fit. It was also agreed upon that I could use any medical information that I collected from a specific frog to treat that frog once it was received by its new owner – thereby eliminating the need to test the frogs immediately upon acquiring the frog/frogs. I had already shipped a huge box of medical supplies and medicines to Florida to treat and test all of the frogs.
I contacted Fish and Wildlife as soon as I discovered that they were seized and offered them my services free of charge. I offered to feed, medicate, examine, unpack, re-house, etc the frogs at Fish and Wildlife. I just couldn’t bare the thought of these frogs dying due to neglect on U.S. soil.
The first conversation I had with an F&W inspector assigned to this case (Inspector Asford Scott) went very well. He informed me that the frogs indeed had been seized and were sitting in Miami. They would not be cared for in any way and he had no idea how long they would sit there. If seemed sympathetic and informed me that, given my credentials and veterinary degree, he believed there should be no problem letting me care for the frogs while they were being held. During our conversation, he mentioned that both the importer and the exporter had to make a decision quickly as to whether or not they would sign an abandonment form. If both parties agreed to abandon the frogs, Ashford Scott told me I very well might be able to take temporary custody of the frogs while we located homes for them at Zoos and Colleges and the like. These frogs were absolutely not going to become my property.
From this point on, I tried my best – with the help of many many others - to locate zoos and other acceptable facilities willing to take some of the animals. Both NAIB and ABG agreed to take some of the pumilio. Many people spent a lot of time and effort trying to find institutes (acceptable to F&W) willing to house these frogs.
Around noon, my conversations with F&W took a drastically different direction. I was informed by the other inspector assigned to this case (Bruce Walker) that no one at F&W was allowed to talk to me anymore. I had no financial or legal involvement in the importation of these frogs, and, therefore, they had no obligation whatsoever to even talk to me. It was not their job to feed or care for the frogs. It was not their job to talk to me. It was not their job to allow me access to the frogs. It was not their job to help me or the frogs in any way. Inspector Walker would do his job, but nothing more.
I was not going to be allowed to care for the animals, and F&W was not going to care for them. It was at this point that I started contacting everyone and anyone that I believed might possibly be able to help. It was at this point that I wrote the post on Dendroboard. I believed that if the animals were abandoned, F&Ws views might change. I also (wrongly) believed Glen actually had a choice as to whether or not to abandon the animal’s. Glen had no real choice – it was abandon the frogs in writing or face charges. Glen was already on his way to sign the abandonment form. I made the mistake of thinking that if the exporter was paid his costs invested in the shipment, that he might be able to allow the animals to reach the zoos etc. I made the mistake. I typed faster than I could think, and the post I left caused a lot of confusion.
The animals were seized due to a problem with the Panamanian government and a poorly timed decision by CITES. Glen and the farmers were not responsible for the seizure and were not charged with anything.
Despite the efforts of many passionate hobbyists and professionals, the frogs were, rather quickly, shipped back to Panama. I did not discover this until Saturday afternoon. The frogs were very well packed in individual containers with moist long fiber sphagnum, and I have been assured by a few highly knowledgeable and respected individuals that the frogs probably fared decently well.
David M. Frye, DVM
P.S. Kyle feel free to post any and all of this information if you would like, or you can e-mail me if you want more specific info.