Conservationists based out of Alberta have released nearly 2,000 endangered northern leopard frog tadpoles to wetlands near Kimberley this summer.
Officials with the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo (WICZ) said they and other conservation groups have been working over the spring and summer to try bolstering the frog’s numbers.
They add that three groups of northern leopard frogs exist in Canada – the eastern, western and Rocky Mountain populations – and the Rocky Mountain group is endangered.
“This frog plays an important role in its ecosystem acting to transfer nutrients between terrestrial and aquatic habitats,” said WICZ. “WICZ is a part of the British Columbia Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team and is working alongside 13+ collaborators to save this frog.”
Conservationists released 1,929 into the wetlands near Kimberley, on a property owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and private landowners.
This year, staff members brought tadpoles from Creston and moved them to the Kimberley release site early on.
This was the first time this site was used to translocate frogs.
“Four separate wetlands here were selected as release sites based on habitat suitability criteria such as water depth, vegetation cover and dissolved oxygen levels in the water,” said WICZ officials. “This year, 1,600 tadpoles were translocated using this method.”
Meanwhile, other tadpoles were taken into care at the Edmonton Valley Zoo for a head-starting program.
“327 tadpoles were cared for over approximately three weeks in a controlled environment where they were kept safe from predators and received the nutrition needed to develop a healthy body condition,” said WICZ officials. “Some individuals were also held back to help produce tadpoles for release in future years.”
The frogs meant for breeding will be brought into a conservation breeding program, which will help shore up numbers for future generations.
Through the summer and into September, researchers will monitor the frog population in Kimberley’s wetlands to see how they are adapting to their new home.
“In a recent weekly monitoring survey, researchers observed 109 young-of-year northern leopard frogs. This is over three times as many as we have found during weekly surveys conducted at the same time of year at a previous reintroduction site,” said WICZ officials. “The team is excited about these promising numbers found at the Kimberley reintroduction site.”