Groups raise, release endangered northern leopard frogs
Last updated 8/15/2022 at 5:07pm
OTHELLO – Hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs are expected to leap into the wild at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
The frogs were caught as tadpoles by state Department of Fish and Wildlife employees earlier this year and raised at Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
Washington State University researchers will fit a couple dozen of the frogs with radio transmitters to help track their movements and monitor survival, officials said.
Once abundant, northern leopard frogs are rapidly disappearing from Washington, Oregon, and western Canada, Fish and Wildlife officials said. The species has been listed as endangered here since 1999.
Officials said the decline in the frog population is habitat loss and degradation and disease.
“The Washington state population of northern leopard frogs has a unique genetic variation relative to the rest of the species range, and they are part of the natural diversity of amphibians," biology professor Erica Crespi said.
“Giving these frogs a headstart by raising them free of predators gives them a better chance of survival,” added Northwest Trek Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman.
Officials said the species’ contribution to the Pacific Northwest ecosystems are overlooked.
“Northern leopard frogs are an important indicator of water quality due to their permeable skin," Fish and Wildlife biologist Emily Grabowsky said. “If we improve and conserve wetland habitat that is good for frogs, other species will also benefit ranging from other amphibians to waterfowl and deer.”