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A Frog Story

"It's going to take several years to find out if it works."

Sep 06, 2017

Once upon a time the mountain yellow-legged frog lived peacefully in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  According to the article below, "the species once thrived in such masses that people could not walk the shores of lakes and ponds in the mountain range without stepping on them."  But then, "the decline began a century ago with the introduction of non-native trout for sport fishing that gobbled up the tadpoles."  Guess that wasn't such a good idea. 
So today, "the mountain yellow-legged frog is missing from 90 percent of its historical region in the Sierra. Both state and federal wildlife authorities have listed it as endangered."  In Yosemite National Park the frog is making a comeback "in part because rangers stopped stocking some lakes with non-native fish...Starting in the 1960s, the frog suffered a second blow from an invasive disease, called the chytrid fungus."
Scientists have come up with a solution for the fungus and "are scooping them up from remote Sierra Nevada ponds and sending them to big city zoos for inoculation...Scientists use nets to capture diseased tadpoles and then fly them by helicopter from their natural range deep within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  They are next driven over 200 miles across the state to the San Francisco and Oakland zoos, where they are inoculated against a ravaging disease partly blamed for wiping them out from much of their historical range in the Sierra.  Roughly 385 frogs have been treated at the zoos and returned after two years as healthy, young adults to their native lakes and ponds."
They think it's working, but can't be sure yet, so next they "will study their frogs to determine if it's working.  It's experimental at this point.  It's going to take several years to find out if it works."
Inoculating the frogs in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks costs roughly $175,000 a year...which mostly goes to pay a team of 10 seasonal biologists doing field work."
Meanwhile in June the California Fish and Game Commission voted to advance the frog as a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act.  "Candidates receive all the protections of a listed species for a year while the commission and staff decide whether to provide permanent endangered species protections."
Would naming them endangered impact people and farmers?  We don't know.  Who could have forseen how naming the Delta Smelt to the Endangered Species list would impact the people of California?

Inoculations give endangered California frog a shot at life

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