As a youngster, decades ago, long before video games, blogs (!) and other time wasting distractions, I spent my days collecting and catching frogs. Collecting frog spawn, tadpoles and raising them at home.
In fact, I had the largest collection of treefrogs in town. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. It was definitely a departure from the normal kid habits or adult habits for that matter - no football, online bingo (www.foxybingo.com), board games or bicycles - I was a fan of amphibians, and it was a hobby that developed into a lifelong fascination with everything that hopped about on webbed feet.
Grandma was always annoyed at me, as every morning the frogs would be croaking away in the backyard. In fact almost all the backyards in the old Vancouver neighbourhoods of Strathcona and Chinatown had my frogs free ranging about. And Granny used to scream,
“… your frogs are so damn noisy! Why you keep them? If I see any of them in my vegetable garden, I’ll squeeze them so they die. damn it.”
Truthfully, Granny loved my frogs.
She realized that because of these creatures, it kept me busy and away from other possible mischief. She also appreciated the fact that our frogs ate their weight in slugs, flies and mosquitoes every day.
Today, many of Vancouver’s old marshes have been redeveloped, and many of the city’s old frog habitats are no more.
In the more isolated locales, I still manage to collect some native treefrog eggs during the spring and hatch them out. They only take one summer and morph into cute little froglets – where I re-release them back into the wild.
Not only is the lost of natural habitats one of the great challenges to Hyla regilla (our native Pacific Tree frog), but the added danger of alien frog predation.
As part of the early entrepreneurial efforts here in the early years of our province, frog farms were established with foreign species - in particular, the American bullfrog. These large frogs were touted as a means for farming frog legs for human consumption.
But the farms were a flop, and many of the captive frogs escaped, and over the years have been colonizing many parts of our region. Here they have been wreaking havoc on our native frog species.
So today, along with some young people, we go out every spring to collect Pacific Treefrog eggs, raise the tadpoles up, and return them back to habitat locales in the region.
It’s a real nice way to introduce a generation of young people into a meaningful stewardship of our environment.
Last year on February 29, 2008, International Year of the Frog was declared. On a leap year, an awareness campaign on the current mass extinction of our valued amphibian.
Here’s an article from our local newspaper:
Hop to it to save frogs from extinction
They’re not cute, but as a bellwether for the environment, conservationists say it’s vital to save them
Chantal Eustace, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, February 29, 2008
A member of one of the most endangered species in Canada, a bulgy-eyed speckled frog, sits perfectly still on a man-made float watching a cricket drift closer.
Then, with one sweep of its sticky tongue, the sit-and-wait predator gulps down its prey.
It’s an act that, if repeated enough times, may help the Oregon spotted frog leap back from the brink of extinction.
Today, leap day, kicks off the international year of the frog, aimed at drawing attention to what could be the “largest extinction since the dinosaurs.”
The numbers are alarming.
Up to half of the world’s known frog species are threatened, including B.C.’s Oregon spotted frog.
There is no time to waste in the battle to save them, says Dennis Thoney, a volunteer member of the Oregon spotted frog recovery team who works at the Vancouver Aquarium.
“We’re facing the largest extinction since the dinosaurs,” Thoney says, adding that more than 120 species have gone extinct since the 1980s. “The amphibian crises is real.”
A number of things are killing frogs, from global warming to introduced predators and habitat loss. A parasitic fungus called amphibian chytrid is considered a major contributor to the decline of amphibian populations worldwide. It has been found in B.C. …
for more on this story, here’s the link to the Vancouver Sun newspaper article.
Also, check out the following websites:
Oh… and I still have frogs.
Lots of them.
From Poison Dart Frogs to Monkey tiger legs, to Red eye Treefrogs …to our little native Pacific Treefrog.
And they all hold so much promise for research and medicine for humanity.
Frogs are going extinct. So are toads, salamanders, newts, and the intriguingly unusual caecilians. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums highlighted 2008 as the Year of the Frog to mark a major conservation effort to address the amphibian extinction crisis. Help your visitors understand all these ways that they can be a friend to frogs.
- Look, listen, and learn: educate yourself and your family about amphibians.
With more than 6,000 frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians worldwide, there’s a lot to learn. Pick up a book, hop around the Internet, or watch your favorite animal television show to educate yourself and your family about amphibians.
- Visit an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institution near you and experience your very own amphibian adventure!
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are helping to save frogs and other amphibians through breeding programs and by providing support for field conservation. They are also some of the best places to see and learn about amphibians from around the world. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.
- Create amphibian friendly environments by providing clean water, hiding places, and insects to eat.
Prime amphibian real estate includes leaf litter, rocks, logs, and a source of water - backyard ponds make a great family project!
- Don’t pollute.
Do your part to keep garbage, chemicals, and non-native plants and animals out of the natural environment. Amphibians absorb chemicals through their skin easily. They also fall prey to non-native species.
- Be a responsible pet owner.
Discourage your canine and feline family members from pestering wildlife, especially amphibians and birds. Curious cats and digging dogs cause a lot of stress for frightened amphibians. If you or your pet encounters an amphibian, study, look, listen, and then leave it where it is.
- Conserve water at home, school, and work.
Save water by using collected rainwater for watering gardens and potted plants. The water you save now remains a clean habitat for wild amphibians without being chemically treated.
- Reduce the use of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas.
Climate change is impacting amphibian populations worldwide. By using less energy or choosing renewable sources of energy, you can help slow the rate of climate change. Drive less, buy fuel-efficient cars, and use compact fluorescent light bulbs!
- Be an amphibian champion.
Donate to wildlife conservation programs, such as the AZA Amphibian Fund. Participate in citizen-science monitoring programs with your family. Be aware of legislation affecting wildlife and their habitat, global warming, and land use and development issues.