The Colorado Division of Wildlife has reversed an earlier public statement in which it recommended that unwanted exotic frogs, fish and salamanders should be euthanized by placing them in freezers as an alternative to releasing them into ponds and lakes.
“It might sound cruel, but the best thing to do with unwanted pet frogs, salamanders, baby alligators, goldfish, and the like--is to freeze them,” herptile specialist Tina Jackson said in the agency’s initial release. “As they cool down they enter into a hibernation sleep state and then pass away.”
The idea behind the release was to educate the public about the potential harm that non-native fish, reptiles and amphibians can cause to the environment. It is an increasingly important issue for state game and fish agencies, as they’re faced with mounting problems caused by invasive aquatic species such as Asian carp, Northern snakeheads and zebra mussels.
Unfortunately, not everyone thought the concept of quietly sending frogs to that big lily pad in the sky by placing them in the deep freeze was responsible, humane advice.
Responding to the recommendation, the American Veterinarian Medical Association contacted the Colorado agency and announced it does not consider freezing reptiles and amphibians to be a humane method of euthanasia.
As a result, the agency issued a follow-up press release last week to clarify the situation, and to apologize.
“The DOW sincerely apologizes for any misinformation and suggesting an inappropriate method of euthanasia,” said the press material. “Euthanizing unwanted animals should only be done as a measure of last resort. It is preferable to give them to someone who will responsibly take care of them, return them to where they were purchased, or donate them to a local natural history museum, aquarium, or zoo.”
The release went on to reiterate the threat that non-native species pose to the ecosystem.
So, unless you’re personally experienced with preparing sodium pentobarbital cocktails, or Dr. Jack Kevorkian has started offering his services to the cold-blooded, you probably shouldn’t be trying any in-home amphibian and reptile euthanasia. Or, just don’t tell anyone about it.