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Recovery program releases the 10, 000th threatened Chiricahua leopard frog into Arizona’s wilderness
For immediate release,
Recovery program releases the 10, 000th threatened Chiricahua leopard frog into
PHOENIX — The Arizona wilderness became a bit more populated this week thanks to a team of biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Phoenix Zoo’s Conservation Center. More than 1, 700 threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs were released into the Tonto National Forest, making this the 10, 000th frog of this rare species released into the wild after being reared at the Phoenix Zoo’s Conservation Center.
The frogs, including adults and tadpoles, were released at multiple sites in the forest near Payson. The frogs were raised from eggs collected near Young. Additionally, 100 frogs that were bred and reared at the zoo were released last week near Camp Verde in the Coconino National Forest.
“Thanks in part to Game and Fish’s Heritage Fund, we are making great strides in reestablishing Chiricahua leopard frogs to their native habitat in Arizona, and this release marks a significant accomplishment and milestone for the recovery effort, ” says Michael Sredl, ranid frog project coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Our goal is to work through partnerships to preclude the need to list species on the federal Endangered Species list, or in cases where they are already listed, to recover them to a point where they can be removed from the list.”
“The Phoenix Zoo has a legacy of conservation and works locally, regionally and internationally to support conservation efforts like this one for the Chiricahua leopard frog, ” says Ruth Allard, executive vice president of conservation and experiences at the Phoenix Zoo. “This particular release is exciting for the Phoenix Zoo as it marks the 10, 000th frog that was cared for by our staff, and released into the wild.”
"Recovering a species threatened with extinction is never an easy task, ” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Because of the expertise our partners bring to the table, along with their dedication and innovative work, we are beginning to see progress toward recovery of the Chiricahua leopard frog. It is through collaborative efforts such as this one that that we hope to preserve our natural environment for future generations.”
“This is an excellent example of how partnerships can recover endangered and threatened species, ” said John Wilcox, a forest wildlife biologist with the Payson Ranger Distict, Tonto National Forest. "The cooperation of rancher Ray Tanner, Green Valley Grazing Complex, where the frogs were released, was critical to this effort."
The Chiricahua leopard frog is a greenish-brown frog that grows to be about 4 inches long. Until the 1970s, Chiricahua leopard frogs lived in ponds and creeks across central and southeastern Arizona, but populations have declined significantly since then due to drought, disease, habitat loss and threats from non-native species.
Ideal establishment sites for releases should contain a perennial water source; be located within the historical range at the right elevations; and, be free of non-native species that could prey on the frogs.
Chiricahua leopard frogs were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002. A recovery team was created to help bring the species back from the brink of extinction. The team developed a recovery plan with the goal of recovering the species to the point where it can be removed from the endangered species list. The plan includes releases of captive-bred frogs, habitat restoration, and monitoring.
Note to media: Interviews with a program biologist and photos and video are available by contacting Arizona Game and Fish Department Public Information Officer Lynda Lambert at (623) 236-7203.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability in its programs and activities. If anyone believes they have been discriminated against in any Game and Fish program or activity, including its employment practices, the individual may file a complaint alleging discrimination directly with the Game and Fish Deputy Director, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phx., AZ 85086, (602) 942-3000 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 130, Arlington, VA 22203. If you require this document in an alternative format, please contact the Game and Fish Deputy Director as listed above or by calling TTY at 1-800 367-8939.
Lynda Lambert, Arizona Game and Fish Department, (623) 236-7203
Linda Hardwick, Phoenix Zoo, (602) 663-3254
Tom Buckley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (505) 248-6455
Paige Rockett, U.S. Forest Service, (602) 225-5290