Print Page


Spotted frogs reintroduced first to Utah

By MELANIE STEELE
Sun Advocate reporter

The adult male spotted frog, which was recently reintroduced to Utah, can be identified by its "swollen thumb".

The first repatriation (reintroduction) of Columbia spotted frogs in the United States happened yesterday in the wet meadow areas of the Swaner Nature Preserve in Park City.

Between 4,000 to 5,000 spotted frog tadpoles were released into protective cages within marshy habitat in the preserve's wet meadow areas. Biologists project 200 to 300 will survive to adulthood during the next two to three years.

The Swaner Nature Preserve was selected as the best repatriation site because of its protected, suitable habitat and the fact that spotted frogs were once found in the area.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service has been working with the Swaner Nature Preserve for several years and has acquired a conservation easement that will protect and enhance habitat within the Swaner Nature Preserve area.

Fifty years ago, the Columbia spotted frog was one of the most common amphibians along the Wasatch Front.

Factors such as loss of habitat, filling-in of wetlands, introduction of non-native species, poor water quality and other factors associated with urban sprawl contributed to their decline.

In 1989, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the spotted frog. The frogs were not listed on the federal Endangered Species list but are listed as a species of concern on Utah's Sensitive Species list.

The spotted frog technical team, which consists of representatives from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District has determined the need to begin repatriation and range expansion projects for the Columbia spotted frog.

Repatriation consists of expanding the range of spotted frogs by moving them into historically occupied habitat. Repatriation will help fulfill objectives outlined in the Columbia Spotted Frog Conservation Agreement and Strategy.

The May 3 repatriation was the first on-the-ground activity ever conducted in the United States to expand the range of the Columbia spotted frog. The frogs are found in western North America, as far north as Alaska and as far south as Utah and Nevada.

The Columbia spotted frog is closely associated with the marshy edges of ponds, lakes, slow-moving cool water streams and springs. They are differentiated from the more common chorus frog by their vocalization and coloration.

Chorus frogs are commonly heard and resemble the sound made when a finger is run down the teeth of a comb. The Columbia spotted frog vocalization sounds like a "clicking" or soft "bubbling" noise. Spotted frogs have yellowish-orange coloration on their bellies. They are currently confined to isolated springs or riparian wetlands in Juab, Sanpete, Summit, Utah and Wasatch counties.





Print Page