Jumping into the wild: Release of endangered frogs could help increase only known population in Washington
Leopard frogs are rapidly disappearing in the Northwest. Biologists hope this effort will help the people of Washington.
Hundreds of endangered Leopard Frogs have leapt into the only wilderness where these frogs are found in Washington.
Last week’s release was an effort to help stimulate this genetically important population. Frogs are indicators of ecosystem health
These tiny frogs first hatched at the Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Pierce County, Washington. Now that they’ve grown to about six centimeters in length, the frogs are ready to join the state’s only known population at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in central Washington.
The volunteers opened the black plastic bins covered with damp towels. The tubs carried the frogs across the state. As the volunteers tilted the bins towards the ground, the frogs quickly jumped into the wetland.
A frog became confused.
“You’re going the wrong way, man,” said Marc Heinzman, zoological curator for Northwest Trek, pointing the wayward frog at the wetland.
Leopard Frogs are rapidly disappearing in Null, Oregon and Null. Frogs lost their habitat and faced competition and predation from invasive species, such as bullfrogs. Frogs must also resist climate change, which could alter pond habitats and dry up areas they depend on during the summer.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said drier conditions caused by climate change could lead to the extinction of this population. The big concern is that the ponds where leopard frogs breed are getting too shallow or disappearing.
Emily Grabowsky, a biologist for the department, said northern leopard frogs are doing well on the east coast but not in the west.
“Leopard frogs are a very good indicator of the health of wetlands. So given that they’re not doing very well here, that probably means there are other issues, ”Grabowsky said.
She said the habitat improvements will also help other species that depend on wetlands, such as other amphibians, waterfowl and deer.
The department collected around 480 frog eggs this spring to be reared at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and null. Frogs became tadpoles and then frogs that ate crickets.
“We’re at a critical point for this species,” said Shelly Pettit, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s frog-breeding efforts. “We’re doing everything we can to help northern leopard frogs thrive again in the Pacific Northwest – and a large, healthy frog has a much better chance of surviving in the wild than an egg or a tadpole. “
Before the frogs were released into the wild, they were injected with a tagging substance that glows under black lights. The substance helps to spot frogs at night.
Leopard frogs have been endangered in Washington since 1999. Washington frogs exhibit unique genetic variations from the rest of the species’ range, said Erica Crespi, associate professor of biology at the University. of Washington State.
“They are part of the region’s natural amphibian diversity,” Crespi said.
Biologists want this version to increase the state’s leopard frog population. Biologists will monitor the released frogs and hope the population will no longer need human intervention in the coming years.
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