One or One-thousand?

The Bullfrog population here at Leafhopper Farm has been kept in check this summer. Lithobates catesbeianus is a serious threat to our local frog populations, as well as other amphibian and reptile friends that are just too small to out-compete this monster of the blue lagoon.

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5.5″ frog

I’ve written about this predator frog before and wanted to update on the status of our pond management and what it means to stay vigilante. The Bullfrog is the second greatest threat to our freshwater native frogs; human encroachment through development is the first. I cannot control what other people do on their own land regarding wetlands, but I can enhance and steward my own.

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underdeveloped frog eggs

The large female Bullfrog had eggs in her. I’m so glad I caught her before those eggs went into my pond. Though they are underdeveloped in this stage, you can see that thousands of baby frogs can come from one mother. This is how catesbeianus continues to dominate our freshwater systems here in Washington, and across the rest of North America. These frogs were brought over from Europe by settlers who saw Bullforgs as an easy meal, and it seemed like a great idea to put them in local ponds and lakes as a snack in times of need. Even our trout were introduced for this purpose, something I only recently learned. Food is good, wild food is great, but tipping the balance of mother nature comes at great cost.

I’m treading on thin ice with this topic, because it could be a metaphor for human encroachment on native populations across the globe. Wetlands are considered sensitive areas on the landscape. I would argue that all land is sensitive, but I also steward domestic animals on the land, drive my truck around the land, and live here, in a house, with septic, and a drain field. People are a HUGE footprint on the land. You’ve probably camped for a week some where and seen the foot paths and trash left by those who came before. Even if your trash is going into a garbage can, it’s still headed to a landfill or incinerator somewhere to be dealt with. That’s why our modern throw away culture is so scary.

We are not frogs, and cannot be managed in the same way. However, we can take responsibility for our consumption and be aware of our impact. When we know, we can act diligently. Ignorance is no excuse when you reach for something on a shelf in a big box store and dismiss the consequences. Do you really need that? Can you pay more locally and save on gas? Can you see beyond your own budget and look at how your buying impacts everything else around you? This is not a guilt trip, but a thinking exercise. We would live better for it, I’m sure.

We are all just trying to survive, like the frog, but our brains and comprehension are vastly more advanced (at least, that’s what we’re taught) and so, action counts. Stewardship is a way of taking responsibility, first for one’s self, then one’s surroundings. Acting locally to support a healthier world does make a difference. Stopping one frog in the pond prevents thousands more, shifting consumption can greatly reduce demand, and slow down encroachment in the same way. When will enough be enough?

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