News from California:
Over the years, the California State Legislature has officially designated numerous state symbols, including declaring a state animal (California grizzly bear), bird (California Valley Quail), fish (California golden trout), tree (California redwood), and reptile (California desert tortoise), yet there is no such official designation for a state amphibian.
With such a rich role in California’s cultural and literary history, the time has come to declare the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) as the official state amphibian of California.
The California red-legged frog is the largest native frog in the western United States and is found almost exclusively in California with a few sightings in Baja California and Mexico.
The red-legged frog’s unique place in California’s history extends as far back as the 19th century gold rush. Miners, known as “forty-niners,” consumed nearly 80,000 frogs per year, nearly eating the species into extinction. While the red-legged frog is no longer consumed by humans, the species is threatened by American bullfrogs, an invasive species of frogs that has spread throughout California. In addition to preying on red-legged frogs, American bullfrogs compete for food resources and spread infectious diseases that undermine native frog populations.
American bullfrogs, however, are not the only threat facing California’s red-legged frogs. Though once found throughout most of California, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, populations of the California red-legged frog are dwindling and the species has disappeared from nearly 70 percent of its historically known habitat. In addition, invasive weeds have degraded the red legged frog’s upland habitat and the introduction of non-native fish species has wreaked havoc on the frog’s reproductive success.
In May 1996, the species was listed as a federal endangered species, with the State of California also classifying it as endangered and subject to protection in June 1996.
AB 2364 would declare the California red-legged frog as the official state amphibian of California.
Though a state symbol declaration does not confer any additional protections for the species, it does highlight the species’ significance to the ecology and history of California.
The excellent American group Save the Frogs, whom we thank for the news above, has branches world wide: