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Cautious optimism for Leopard Frog

The Northern Leopard Frog is making a slow but steady comeback thanks to conservation efforts. - Photo Barb Houston
The Northern Leopard Frog is making a slow but steady comeback thanks to conservation efforts.
— image credit: Photo Barb Houston

 

According the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 is the year of the Snake. It seems that, as far as the endangered northern leopard frog population is concerned, it could be the year of the Frog instead.

First, with the help of the FWCP and the Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team, the Vancouver Aquarium has, for the first time in B.C., successfully bred northern leopard frogs in an aquarium setting. This captive assurance colony was started in 2009 and, with funding support from the FWCP, biologists have been supplying the Aquarium with about 50 northern leopard frog tadpoles from the Creston Valley each year.

Second, the number of northern leopard frog egg masses found in 2013 in the CVWMA wetland complex was relatively high once again; 21 in total, just shy of last year’s record count (since records started in 1996 at least) of 22.

“This marks the second year in a row when there has been more than 20 egg masses found, after typically finding less than 10 each year - so there is room for some cautious optimism,” says project lead and wildlife biologist Barb Houston. “That said, this endangered population is still very fragile.”

The positive results on both fronts mean an expansion in the reintroduction effort for northern leopard frogs in the East Kootenay, where they were historically found. Approximately 2,000 two week old tadpoles were transported from Vancouver Aquarium and released by Recovery Team biologists at a new re-introduction site about two hours north of Cranbrook. In addition another 9,000 tadpoles were removed from Creston Valley and relocated to Bummer Flats, just north of Cranbrook. Over the last three years approximately 21,500 northern leopard frog tadpoles have been moved from the Creston Valley to Bummers Flats to help bolster the reintroduced population, which was initiated in 2003.

An adult northern leopard frog at Vancouver Aquarium, and one in the wild in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.

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