Typhochlaena seladonia

The Tarantula Keepers Coalition has added a new fundraiser to its current efforts. Please visit the Go Fund Me page to add your support. The fundraiser reads:

There are only a few hobbyists that do not know Tom Patterson who is well-known in keeping and breeding tarantulas for over 20 years. Tom has helped thousands of hobbyists become responsible keepers through his art, photography and his importing and breeding projects. Tom has provided fellow hobbyists with rare insights into the incredible spiders that would otherwise go unseen. He is about to embark on another big project and needs your support. Tom is fighting the forfeiture of his tarantulas and possible civil penalties!
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Specifically, a Brazilian agency and regulation is the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente a dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis Ordinance No. 93/1998 (July 7, 1998) published in Portuguese. This Brazilian ordinance prohibits trade in flora and fauna and Tom is an unsuspecting victim entrapped for importing spiders.

If you are not familiar with the legal issue regarding Brazilian species, please read this carefully to get informed. In July of 2018, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) confiscated an import of Typhochlaena seladonia (T. seladonia) from Tom – a licensed and credential importer, who had the proper documentation. The reason for seizure was not faulty documents rather an obscure Brazilian agency ordinance never published nor listed by CITES or the U.S. government. To this day USFWS has made no announcement, regulation or given any guidelines as to whether T. seladonia can be imported and places the burden on you, the importer, to know this Brazilian ordinance, which is in the Portuguese language.
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In summary, the USFWS is seizing property, in this case the T. seladonia, from U.S. citizens based upon a foreign ordinance without ever providing notice and due process to the importer. Until your import is seized, you do not know if some foreign country has an agency ordinance that would hold you in violation of a foreign rule. If a specimen is not listed under CITES or the U.S. Endangered Species Act how do you know if you can legally import any specimen because of a foreign regulation? At this time all you know is that T. seladonia is unlawful because Brazil said so back in 1998!

The larger legal battle is how many other unknown foreign agency ordinances will the USFWS enforce against unsuspecting law-abiding U.S. hobbyists? This lack of clarity places all flora and fauna importers at risk. Nothing short of a successful court battle can stop the USFWS from using this same vague enforcement from other foreign countries and placing all hobbyistsin financial jeopardy and causing many a sleepless night. Think? Is there a foreign ordinance you have violated while believing you were complying with CITES and ESA? How would you know without researching every country of the species origin?

Tom has retained a law office and has support from the Tarantula Keeper’s Coalition (TKC) to challenge the USFWS in the U.S. federal court system to clarify and correct this injustice. This legal issue is bigger than achieving justice for Tom and is a legal fight for all who might be subject to a foreign agency regulation passed by a foreign government yet enforced against a U.S. Citizen.

When import laws lack transparency, the demand for illegal poaching or “brown boxing” increases. We believe that responsible, legal trade avenues are vital to combating poaching behavior that threatens the safety and longevity of wild tarantula populations. Your gift today will help Tom challenge the USFWS in court. Friends of Tom ask our allies in the community to join this legal fight for everyone. Thank you.

The TKC Helps Desertas Wolf Spider Project See Goal

 

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We are proud to announce that last week we raised enough funds through charity auctions to help bring  PredatororPrey Online and Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Desertas Wolf Spider project to their goal. It didn’t take much convincing from Tom Patterson when he brought up the project at a TKC board meeting. Conservation and land preservation are something that we all care very deeply about. This project was something that Tom has been watching for a few years.

“I had first read about the declining isolated population of Hogna ingens (Desertas Wolf Spider) in a 2015 article of the British Tarantula Society Journal,” Tom explained.  “I’m happy to see Bristol Zoo Gardens ongoing efforts to restore the ecological balance of the Castanheira Valley where this beautiful critically endangered spider is found. It’s great to be able to help fund projects like this through the TKC, and I hope to work on many future conservation efforts moving forward.” Tom spoke for us all when he concluded. “I wish Bristol Zoo Gardens and all other parties involved the best of luck with their work in the on Deserta Grande Island and the future of Hogna ingens.”

A little bit about the Desertas Wolf Spider project, excerpt from Bristol Zoo Gardens’ website

The Desertas wolf spider (Hogna ingens) is endemic to Vale da Castanheira, Desertas Islands, Madeira, Portugal. Despite having an impressive 40mm body size and being the largest known species of wolf spider, very little is known about this species.

Even though some taxonomists have provided redescriptions, every other aspect of this remarkable species has remained unknown until recently. It was assessed as Critically Endangered according to the IUCN (Cardoso 2014) but is not protected by any international, national or regional legislation or agreements.

In the absence of any native terrestrial mammals, this spider is a top predator in its habitat. Although its major prey consists of other invertebrates, such as beetles, woodlice and millipedes, adults have also been seen predating on juvenile lizards. The latter, along with birds and mice, are the major predators of H. ingens, mostly during its juvenile stage. This is when the spider is most vulnerable to predators because in addition to its smaller size, it tends to disperse in order to find new shelters, thus maximizing the likelihood of encounters with potential predators. As spiders grow and find proper shelters, mostly below rocks but also in soil crevices, their inclination to disperse gradually decreases. It takes about two years for spiders to reach maturity.

The small valley where the spider lives is currently mostly covered by Phalaris spp. The colonization of this grass in the Vale da Castanheira was hidden for some years due to the presence of rabbits that grazed and controlled the spread of the plant. With the eradication of rabbits from the Valley in 1996, Phalaris lost its main predator and now proliferates. This grass appears to not only displace many native plants, but also many of the native animals. It covers the surface of the soil and rocks, making the microhabitats below the rocks harder to access for the spiders.

Five year objectives:

– To restore the ecological balance in the Castanheira Valley through reduction of Phalaris density on the assumption that a viable population of spiders will persist across the entire valley
– To analyze the genetic structure of the population, its habitat preferences and the potential consequences of climate change
– To maintain and breed a second spider population at Bristol Zoo Gardens
– To raise awareness of the importance and uniqueness of the spider to visitors at Bristol Zoo Gardens

The TKC often holds auctions for various fundraising endeavors. Each of the board members has very generously donated spiders from our own collections. We have also donated spiders from our shops. The community comes together time and again to raise funds and has shown great support for the TKC.  We will soon be announcing other preservation and conservation efforts that we are working towards. We welcome any suggestions or ideas from our supporters as well. 

To take part in the auctions, supporters are encouraged to join the Facebook group The Tarantula Community

To donate to the cause, click here.

Resources:
Bristol Zoo Gardens Desertas Wolf Spider Project
PredatorOrPrey Online
Photo credit: Emanuele Biggi