SD Zoo Wildlife Alliance breeds and releases endangered frogs in the San Jacinto Mountains


A mountain yellow-legged frog after release. Video screenshot of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

A team of scientists, including representatives of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, reintroduced a group of 253 endangered yellow-legged mountain frogs to a remote site in the San Bernardino National Forest, we announced on Monday.

The release, which occurred on July 8, is the second to occur at this location after a long California Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat improvement project for the benefit of frogs. An additional release is planned at the site later this month, bringing the total number of juvenile frogs released this year to nearly 400.

The frogs were bred by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and are one year old. Scientists hope that after successful wintering in their mountain habitat, the frogs, which are a mixture of males and females, will survive over the next several years to reproduce and establish a self-sustaining population.

For more than 20 years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, US Geological Survey, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and other partners have worked together on actions to recovery for the Mountain Yellow population in Southern California. – Frogs with legs.

“It will take many partners working together to help us fully restore the Yellow-legged Mountain Frogs throughout their southern California range,” said Scott Sobiech, field supervisor for the Carlsbad office of the US Fish. and Wildlife Service. “While frogs still face many threats, this release is a great example of the progress we are making towards recovery.”

Getting the frogs to the release site involved transporting them by vehicle to the trailhead in special cooler backpacks that maintain an appropriate temperature for this high altitude species, then trekking for more than five miles to the place of release.

“Climate change and the chytrid fungus are creating challenges for the survival of the Yellow-legged Mountain Frog that the species has never faced before,” said Debra Shier, associate director of recovery ecology and co -Head of the Southwest Center of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Through our collaborative efforts to create and develop ex-situ insurance populations, to use science to understand and mitigate threats, and to develop effective reintroduction strategies, we hope to successfully recover the Yellow-legged Frog from the mountains in its natural habitat and allow the species to play its important role in the ecosystem in the future.

Historically, the southern California frog population was widely distributed in the mountains of San Gabriel, San Bernardino, San Jacinto, and Palomar. Several factors, including non-native predators, impacts on recreation, and disease, contributed to the species being extirpated from most of its habitat when it was listed as Endangered in 2002. At the time of listing, it was estimated that there were less than 100 adult frogs in the wild.

Over the years, recovery efforts have included land management of the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests to minimize human impacts on habitat as well as conservation and research programs by the San Diego Zoo Alliance, US Geological Survey, Los Angeles Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. and the Aquarium, Santa Ana Zoo and UCLA to inform future conservation and management of the species.

“As land managers, our primary role is to protect frogs and their habitat so populations can recover,” said Kim Boss, San Jacinto Ranger District Wildlife Biologist. “One example is the closing of populated streams to the public entrance when frogs are active. We thank the public for their continued membership in the shutdown so that these unique frogs have a fighting change. “

Although much of California experiences drought and an increased risk of wildfires, conditions at the release site in the San Jacinto Mountains remain favorable to support the frogs.

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