Students Work to Save Rare Frog
By Stephanie Stowell
Addressing the issue of declining frog populations worldwide, the students at Douglas High School in southeastern Arizona are working to save one of the state's rarest amphibians from the endangered species list: the Chiricahua Leopard frog. The Chiricahua Leopard frog was common in southeast Arizona until they started disappearing approximately 10 years ago. This population decline, due primarily to the introduction of non-native predators, habitat destruction and pesticide use, indicated to Hans Bodenhamer and his students that there was a great need to create "safe places" for the frogs to live and breed.
Working in partnership with local ranchers and government agencies, the students collected eggs and began to raise them in ten gallon tanks in the classroom. Once the eggs developed into tadpoles, the students began to address the issue of where they were to be released. Thanks to donations from a local ranching organization, the students were able to construct a pond on school grounds. Nearly one third of the original tadpoles were released into the pond that they, themselves, built with the remaining tadpoles released at several other natural sites.
At the end of the first year more than one hundred tadpoles were released. By the end of the second year, students were successful in establishing a breeding population of the Chiricahua in their schoolyard pond! Now, three years later, a second pond has been added at the High School, and three more ponds created at middle schools and elementary schools around the city. Thanks to the efforts of the Douglas High School students and their collaboration with ranchers, government agencies and the community, important progress has been made to reestablish a viable population of this rare amphibian.
Congratulations to Douglas High School, winner of a 1998 Sea World Environmental Excellence Award.
Stephanie Stowell is NWF's Schoolyard Habitats Coordinator.
Some Frog Facts
- Frogs and toads are somewhat different. In general, frogs have moist smooth skin and spend all their time in or near water. Toads have dry bumpy skin and don't have to be near water all the time.
- Like trees, frog bones grow a new ring every year while the frog hibernates. Scientists use these rings to determine the age of frogs.
- Frogs don't give you warts! Warts are caused by a virus.
- The biggest frog is the goliath frog that lives in Cameroon, Africa with bodies that are nearly 1 ft. (30cm) long and legs that are even longer than that!