- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - State biologists are trying to handle an aggressive northward expansion of American bullfrogs that are multiplying rapidly and posing a threat to fellow amphibians.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists teamed up last week to catch bullfrogs near the Canadian border, The Spokesman-Review reported (https://bit.ly/1J2nGae ). The team was joined by three British Columbia entities interested in protecting Northern leopard frogs in the Creston Valley in Canada.

“They’re big - much bigger than native amphibians,” said Michael Lucid, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist. The softball-size frogs will eat anything that fits in their large mouths, he said: “Mice, ducklings. … They’re even cannibalistic of their own species.”

Bullfrogs are native to the southeastern U.S., where alligators prey on them. With no native predator in the West, the bullfrog population is soaring. They are taking over ponds, and devouring native frogs and other wildlife.

Wildlife officials were only able to capture and kill 20 of the 116 frogs they saw in the Boundary Creek Wildlife Management area in Idaho, just south of the border from Canada.

“They’re hard to catch,” Lucid said. “If you get close to them, they’ll go ‘EEEP!’ and all you’ll hear is a splash in the water. Sometimes, you can see their eyes in a pond, but they’ll just disappear into the muck.”

Populations of Northern leopard frogs, once common, have plummeted in western Canada and they haven’t been seen in northern Idaho since the 1950s.

Lucid said catching the bullfrogs will help better understand how the amphibians spread. They prefer warm, moist valley bottoms, he noted.

“They’re a species that we expect to do quite well with global warming,” Lucid said.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com

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