Scientific paper outlines actions to save declining amphibian populations in the US

Despite the theoretical protection afforded by the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), many amphibians remain under threat. A new scientific paper co-authored by Katherine M. O'Donnell, a participant of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour, explores the various issues that have served as challenges to the recovery of declining amphibian populations in the U.S.
 
A disappointing aspect of the current environmental situation is that even where recovery plans exist for certain amphibians, delays and indecisiveness have stood in the way of practical measures being taken. For example, concerns about the Dusky Gopher Frog, considered one of the “100 most critically endangered species in the world”, were first raised in 1982, only receiving formal endangered listing in 2001 19 years later. In addition, the designation of critical habitat, what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers essential to the species’ conservation, occurred another 11 years later in 2012.

This slow reaction to decline applies to a number of species, illustrating the need for urgent action. The authors of the publication propose several pragmatic strategies to encourage species recovery. Among these, strong leadership, training, better collaboration and improved information sharing are considered to hold the key to preventing a global amphibian crisis.

This important study appears in the prestigious scientific journal BioScience, which is published by the Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The work is written by US Government employees and is available in the US public domain.
 
Download the full article pdf here.
 
View Katherine O'Donnell's photos of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour here:
http://www.savethefrogs2.com/countries/peru/ecotours/
 
 

Bullfrog Prohibition: Save The Frogs Official Comment To CA Fish & Game Commission

In late 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) calling on the state to list American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana; Lithobates catesbeianus) as a prohibited species. Our petition is being considered at the FGC's April 26, 2017 meeting in Van Nuys, CA (please attend and speak if you are able, at Airtel Plaza Hotel, 7277 Valjean Ave, Van Nuys, CA).

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has published documents detailing the extensive harms caused by non-native bullfrogs, yet each year they issue permits for the importation of over 2,000,000 live bullfrogs into the state. Many of these bullfrogs escape or are purposely set free and then establish populations. The bullfrogs eat native amphibians, compete with them for breeding habitat and food, and spread diseases such as chytridiomycosis.

On April 21st, 2017, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger submitted this official comment to the FGC on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! and our supporters, urging the FGC to list American Bullfrogs as a prohibited species in the state of California.

You can email the California Fish and Game Commission at: fgc@fgc.ca.gov

"Live importation of American Bullfrogs presents a direct risk to California's wildlife…definitely it's a pathway for wildlife diseases."
-- Stafford Lehr, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Branch Chief of Inland and Anadromous Fisheries, February 12th, 2015

"This animal (the American Bullfrog) is a threat to California's native species. Our own report now demonstrates that's true."
-- California Fish & Game Commissioner Richard Rogers, February 12th, 2015

american bullfrog

Learn more about bullfrogs at: www.savethefrogs.com/bullfrogs

Dear Chair and Members of the Commission:
Endangered Habitats League (EHL) most strongly supports this petition.  For your reference, EHL is Southern California’s only regional conservation group and a long-standing participants in habitat plans in San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties.

As we review management plans and biological reports, we are over and over again struck by the immense harm to natural systems and species wrought by the introduced American bullfrog.  This invasive species has had widespread and devastating effects on an ecosystem unadapted to it.  Eradication programs are expensive and only a preventive approach makes sense.  It is long past time to add the bullfrog to the restricted species list and to contain the damage and the financial cost of the American bullfrog.

Thank you for considering our views.
Yours truly,
Dan Silver, Executive Director
Endangered Habitats League
April 22, 2017
RE:  Petition #2016-030 to add American bullfrog to list of restricted species (Item 17(A)I, April 26, 2017)

##########################
"Dear Dr. Kriger,
As a result of rivers flooding in the winter, never-before-seen bullfrogs made their way to the creek on Old Sonoma Road in south Napa, next to the Ridgeview School. Since then, ALL the tree frogs and red-legged frogs in that area have DISAPPEARED. I am talking about hundreds of tree frogs who used to populate the area, as well as families of red-legged frogs. Twenty years ago, the town of south Napa was full of these frogs. Now, nothing.

Unless the county of Napa Valley and other northern California towns are prepared for the extinction of all tree frogs and red-legged frogs, the importation of bull frogs must cease immediately. Had this been dealt with back in the 1990s when it began in earnest, there would never have been such a complete wipe-out of these native frogs. I love bullfrogs in their native habitat. However, importing these bullfrogs affects the balance of nature, in favor of the bullfrogs.
Cordially,
Louise Salant"

Calling All Californians: Bullfrog Action Required in Van Nuys, CA April 26th, 2017

SAVE THE FROGS! has been working with governmental and nonprofit partners since 2010 to reduce the number of invasive species entering the USA. One of the species we have worked hardest on is the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana or Lithobates catesbeianus). While we love bullfrogs in their native habitat, their invasion of the American West has caused an array of negative impacts on native (and frequently threatened and endangered) amphibians.

California politicians have been permitting the importations of over two million bullfrogs annually, which causes unnecessary harm to California's native amphibians, as the bullfrogs prey on native frogs, compete with them for food and breeding habitats, and spread infectious diseases. SAVE THE FROGS! helped create new bullfrog policies in the City and County of Santa Cruz, California in 2012, and we have been urging the State of California to ban importation and sales of bullfrogs for the past seven years.

Thankfully, our frog-loving friends and attorneys at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have recently stepped up and taken on this issue as well. CBD and STF! co-authored and submitted a petition in 2016 calling on the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to list American Bullfrogs as a prohibited species in the state. Our petition is being considered at the FGC's April 26, 2017 meeting in Van Nuys, CA (which takes place at the Airtel Plaza Hotel, 7277 Valjean Avenue).

This is our best chance yet to make a serious difference for native amphibians in California so we are calling on all frog enthusiasts to attend the April 26th, 2017 meeting in Van Nuys.

By attending, you will be able to let the FGC politicians know that you want American Bullfrog importation and sales to be ended in California now! All attendees will have the chance to speak to the Commission (expect to have 2 minutes total). SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco will be at the meeting to speak on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS!.

Attend the April 26th, 2017 Fish & Game Commission meeting in Van Nuys, CA:
RSVP by emailing Kathlyn Franco (kathlyn@savethefrogs.com). She will tell you where to meet, what time you should arrive, and answer any of your questions, including helping you craft your speech to the Commissioners on behalf of the amphibians.

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Bullfrog photo courtesy Jock Branson.

SAVE THE FROGS! Petitions State of California to Ban Importation of American Bullfrogs

On December 7th, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) calling on the state to ban the importation of live American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) by adding the species to the state’s list of restricted animals. The addition would help prevent future introductions of bullfrogs, which in California are a non-native, invasive amphibian.

Download the petition here.

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Photo of American Bullfrog courtesy Jock Branson

Bullfrogs prey upon and compete with California's native wildlife, and play a role in the spread of disease. The American Bullfrog is included in the Global Invasive Species Database’s list of “One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” In 1997 the European Union banned the importation of live American bullfrogs due to their invasiveness, yet about 2 million live bullfrogs are currently imported into California every year. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a 2014 report "Implications of Importing American Bullfrogs into California" that clearly demonstrates the threat caused to California's native wildlife by American Bullfrogs.

“Bullfrogs have already inflicted significant damage on California's wildlife populations, including many that are threatened with extinction,” said Jenny Loda, a biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every new shipment of live bullfrogs into California presents the threat of further introductions of this highly invasive frog. We simply can't take the risk.”

rana catesbeiana american bullfrog

An animal can be added to the “restricted animals” list by the FGC when it “is proven to be undesirable and a menace to native wildlife.” The FGC has previously used its authority to restrict live imports of other non-native, invasive animals that pose similar threats as bullfrogs, including carp, water snakes and some species of abalone.

SAVE THE FROGS! has been campaigning for an end to live bullfrog importations into California since May of 2010, when SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger spoke at a Fish & Game Commission hearing on the topic. At that hearing, the Commission voted to disallow the importation of live non-native frogs and turtles into the state, but the Department of Fish & Wildlife never abided by the Commission’s instructions, resulting in over ten million additional American Bullfrogs entering the state due to the Department's failure to act on behalf of native wildlife. Our current petition will hold more legal force if it is successful.

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Live American Bullfrogs piled high in a San Francisco market. Photo by Michael Starkey.

"It's about time. Back in the 1990's the population of tree frogs and reg-legged frogs were completely depleted from south Napa in the town of Napa, CA. This was in the creek at Old Sonoma Road next to a school building. The tree frogs used to be so loud at night and then one year we had flooding, we got bullfrogs swimming over the dam into the creek, and that was the end of the native frogs. I personally love bullfrogs as long as they are native to an area, such as Vermont. They are very beautiful. However importing them to sell in open markets is cruel and disgusting. I feel really sorry for them."
-- Louise Salant

SAVE THE FROGS! built a wetland at Garvey Intermediate School in Los Angeles

SAVE THE FROGS! is proud to be building wetlands at schools. We are merging conservation and education by building wetlands that will be used for outdoor education. More importantly, we are building wetlands in urban environment. Historically, the majority of humans lived in rural areas where they farmed and hunted regularly. In 1800, only three percent of the world's population lived in cities. Today the majority of people live in cities. It is expected that by 2050, seventy percent of humans will live in an urban environment. These are unprecedented rates of urbanization. As we grow further removed from necessary natural sources such as water and food there is a false sense of disconnection from nature. That is one of the reasons it is important to incorporate things like wetlands in our urban environment to increase connections to nature. By building wetlands at schools and getting the students involved in every step from design to construction, we foster a connection with nature that will later lead them to vote environmentally friendly or even become amphibian biologists!

Building wetlands at schools is never an easy task. Jesse Chang from the nonprofit City Net reached out to SAVE THE FROGS! and asked us to be a partner in constructing a wetland at Garvey Intermediate School. He has been working hard for about a year, talking to the right people in order to get approvals. Because of his hard work and determination we gained approvals and built a wetland at Garvey Intermediate School on October 7th, 2017.

Kathlyn Franco Osagie Wetlands
Jessie Chang and Kathlyn Osagie at Garvey Intermediate School wetland construction day.

Garvey School Wetland
Kathlyn Osagie giving instructions on how deep to dig the wetland basin

kids wetlands
Over 40 students came out to volunteer on a Saturday to build the wetland. They were enthusiastic to learn how to measure the wetland basin using the construction level and re-flag the site after the bobcat removed a lot of soil. The students helped rake the basin once the bobcat was finished removing soil.

school wetland
Kathlyn teaching students how to hold the measuring rod to read elevations. 

 

justin save the frogs
Justin (left) is a dedicated SAVE THE FROGS! supporter. He believes in our cause to build wetlands for amphibians. He raised over $1,000 for the Garvey wetland project! We were lucky to have Justin and his family join us on construction day, as well as Eitan (in red). You can support Justin's frog-saving efforts here

"We had a blast building the wetlands."
-- Sheri S.

This is what the Garvey school looked like before construction:
garvey intermediate school

This is what the Garvey school looked like immediately after construction:
garvey intermediate school wetland

We look forward to sharing photos of the wetland once the rains come and fill it!

Building a Wetland at Garvey Intermediate School in Los Angeles County

Many urban children have never seen a frog in the wild. With over 90% of California’s wetlands drained and amphibians declining at unprecedented rates, it is becoming increasingly rare that children come into contact with amphibians. Nature deficit disorder is a significant problem in American children, and it is well documented that spending time in nature helps students concentrate and leads to increased test scores. SAVE THE FROGS! believes that by creating wetlands at schools, we can assist both amphibians and children.

Garvey Intermediate School is a middle school of 7th and 8th graders located in eastern Los Angeles County. On October 7th, 2017, Garvey will become the first school in Southern California to host a SAVE THE FROGS! wetland construction event! This school has taken a huge step forward in saying that the environment matters, the student's education matters and environmental science matters. Creating the wetland with the students' assistance will encourage stewardship of wetland habitats and provide students with an educational and empowering experience. These kinds of steps taken at schools help children in cities develop a connection with nature that will later lead them to vote environmentally friendly or even become amphibian biologists!

Building this wetland will provide students with an outdoor science classroom, an attractive and interesting landscape, increased opportunities for wildlife viewing, and an exciting place to explore. The project will greatly improve bird, butterfly, dragonfly and frog habitat at their school.

Garvey school wetlands
Garvey students with Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco Osagie after teaching the students how to test the soil's clay content — an important step in determining how to construct the wetland.

Read more: Building a Wetland at Garvey Intermediate School in Los Angeles County

Federal Action To Assist Frogs In The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

In 2009, SAVE THE FROGS! supporters sent in over 700 comment letters to the National Park Service (NPS) urging them to remove non-native fish from over 60 water bodies in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This constituted over 95% of the comments received by the NPS and paved the way for federal action to assist threatened Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs (Rana muscosa). It took the NPS seven years to make a decision...but they decided to assist the frogs by removing non-native fish from the parks, and in 2016 released this Record of Decision. The NPS' announcement of the decision is below. Victory for the frogs! Thank you to all our supporters who submitted comment, and thank you to the NPS for taking action for amphibians.

mountain yellow legged frog
Photo of Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs courtesy Dr. Vance Vredenburg

Read more: Federal Action To Assist Frogs In The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Wetland Success in Plumas National Forest

Thanks to the very generous donations of twenty SAVE THE FROGS! supporters, we were able to assist in the construction of six wetlands in June/July 2017! The three wetlands in Elgin, AZ were built to provide habitat for the threatened Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis). The other three wetlands are in Plumas National Forest, and serve as habitat for the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii). On June 28th and 29th, 2017, SAVE THE FROGS! Ecologist Kathlyn Franco Osagie served as an assistant instructor at a US Forest Service wetland construction workshop, helping to educate hydrologists, botanists and engineers about wetland construction techniques. These wetland projects are huge successes. The wetlands we built in Eldorado National Forest in 2014 and 2016 are holding water and being used by California Red-Legged Frogs. At Plumas National Forest two of the wetlands we built this summer are already holding water (they filled with pre-existing groundwater). The third wetland uses a pesticide-free plastic liner and is expected to fill once the first rains come.

plumas national forest wetlands
Plumas National Forest: one of the two groundwater wetlands we built for the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii).

Read more: Wetland Success in Plumas National Forest

Save The Frogs Day 2017 in Pittsburg, California

Stoneman Elementary in Pittsburg, California hosted yet another Save The Frogs Day fair. The school’s third grade students helped raise awareness about how frogs are disappearing and what kids can do to help. The students gave in-depth presentations about the adaptations of four different frogs they had been studying for months. Two hundred people attended this learning fair. SAVE THE FROGS! ecologist Micheal Starkey was one of the people in attedance and gave a informational talk to the students about amphibian conservation.

USA California Pittsburg Fair
SAVE THE FROGS! ecologist Michael Starkey teaching the students about amphibian conservation. 

Read more: Save The Frogs Day 2017 in Pittsburg, California

Working Together to Save The Frogs in San Diego

“Celebrating frogs and igniting a passion for all amphibians is a major component of our Conservation Education Programs at Zovargo.” – Founder, Amanda Plante

Zovargo
is a San Diego based education organization that fosters connections between humans and animals to help inspire conservation stewardship. The program is grounded on the foundation of incorporating all life from the smallest crawling bug to the largest bird of prey as a way to reach a broad audience through their education programs. In 2016, Zovargo connected with nearly 18,000 individuals bringing animals into school classrooms, to scout groups, libraries, and private events throughout Southern California.

ZovargoSchool Pacman
Kids learning about amphibians

Read more: Working Together to Save The Frogs in San Diego

President Obama enlarges California Coastal National Monument and recognizes the value of California Red-Legged Frogs

In May 2015 I submitted this letter on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! members in California, across the USA and around the world, expressing our support for increasing the protections afforded to the Coast Dairies property in California, and specifically calling on politicians to designate the land as part a national monument, so as to ensure permanent protections for the property’s biodiversity.

On January 12th, 2017, President Barack Obama issued this proclamation declaring that Cotoni-Coast Dairies and important nearby areas are now included in the California Coastal National Monument, stating “The threatened California red-legged frog uses many of the waterways and water sources here, along with a wide range of other amphibians and reptiles.”

rana draytonii eggs
California Red-Legged Frog Egg Mass

Read more: President Obama enlarges California Coastal National Monument and recognizes the value of California Red-Legged Frogs

Endangered Amphibians Receive Greater Protection in California

Victory for amphibians in California! The United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared nearly 3,000 square miles in the Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for the mountain yellow-legged frog, Sierra Madre yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad. These three endangered amphibian species face an array of threats including pesticides, infectious diseases and predation by invasive trout species. This newly secured habitat will give these amazing amphibians the much needed protection they deserve.

Many thanks to the wonderful SAVE THE FROGS! supporters who sent in letters of support when the USFWS held a public comment period for listing this area as endangered amphibian species habitat. Learn more about this exciting victory here.

mountain yellow legged frog
Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs in Amplexus. Photo by Vance Vredenburg.

Save The Frogs Day in Santa Cruz

The City of Santa Cruz Water Department partnered with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County to present an amphibian conservation themed walk and talk at Loch Lomond Recreation Area on Save The Frogs Day! They passed around exciting amphibian conservation educational material and learned about some of the invasive species that threaten California’s native ecosystems.

USA-CA-Santa Cruz-1USA-CA-Santa Cruz-2

Save The Frogs Day at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center

"I organized the event to be held at Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, CA. I had three tables, one for the STF paraphernalia, one for kids coloring and education, and one for face painting. I had a volunteer, Cody, who assisted with the main STF table and distributing material while I was overseeing the other 2 tables.

The kids station had the following: pictures of various frogs to color, photos of frogs, books and educational material. The nature center also provided us with a bullfrog in a tank and pacific chorus frog tadpoles in another. This served as an educational tool as well to discuss how bullfrogs are a danger to other native species.

At the third table, I stationed a hired girl who painted frogs on the kids faces (the adults wanted them too!). I also set out handmade cupcakes to sell in order to add to the profit making for the organization. This was a popular addition. The nature center staff had amphibians, reptiles and birds to show people that came by our table.

Overall, it was a great success. Many people that came by our table were unaware of the threats frogs are facing and were very receptive to listening."
- Sara T, Save The Frogs Day Event Organizer

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Save The Frogs Day in Auburn

"Our third SAVE THE FROGS! bake sale fundraiser was a success. We set up our information and baked goods table in a local shopping center in north Auburn, California. Once again, our assortment of lemon bars and cookies were a hit – along with our rescue-dog mascot, the “Frog Dog”, Tazz. We’re still a bit surprised that many people do not know the danger of extinction our amphibian friends face. Many times we heard, “Frogs are in trouble, really?” A lot of people do not know that they are under duress due to pesticides, loss of habitat, invasive species, climate change and more. On Save The Frogs Day this year, we were excited to once again educate (our #1 goal) over 150 people and receive over $300 to support the STF organization’s efforts. Thank you STF! For all that you do to help the frogs." ~ Nancy and Taylor Lichtle

CA Auburn Bake sale

Help Save Endangered Red-Legged Frogs: Marin County

Please join SAVE THE FROGS! in San Rafael, California on Thursday April 16th, 2015 and speak up on behalf of endangered California Red-Legged Frogs, our official state amphibian! The City of San Francisco has applied for a permit to dredge and drain the Sharp Park Wetlands. Their goal is to create dry land for a publicly-funded, money-losing golf course. Our goal is to stop them! The City’s draining activities kill the Red-Legged Frogs as well as the endangered San Francisco Garter Snakes.

rana draytonii mori point

Read more: Help Save Endangered Red-Legged Frogs: Marin County

Tell the City of San Francisco to Stop Killing California Red-Legged Frogs

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently took actions to approve a long term management plan that includes spending taxpayer dollars to drain the Sharp Park Wetlands. The City of San Francisco has a documented history of harming, killing and harassing federally protected California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii) when they drain this rare wetland ecosystem. Their reason to drain the wetlands: to create dry land for a money-losing golf course. 

egg mass sharp park
California Red-Legged Frog eggs stranded on land

Read more: Tell the City of San Francisco to Stop Killing California Red-Legged Frogs

Action Alert: Protect Amphibians From Off-Highway Vehicles

Help save Tesla Park’s endangered amphibians from off-highway vehicle destruction!

We need your help today to stop the State of California from turning 3,100 acres of critical amphibian habitat at Tesla Park into a publicly funded off-highway vehicle park! Three-wheelers and dirt bikes have no place in one of the state’s most biologically rich areas, but the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) of California State Parks is planning to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into nearby Tesla Park, which contains some of the state's most important amphibian habitat. Please submit your comment through the easy to use form we created at: http://savethefrogs.com/tesla

Tesla Park is home to our official state amphibian the California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii); California Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma californiense), Foothill Yellow-legged frogs (Rana boylii); Spadefoot toads (Spea hammondii), as well as more common species like California Newts (Taricha torosa) and Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla). The OHMVR wants to let intensive OHV use destroy the upland habitats of these frogs and salamanders. Please make your voice heard and help protect Tesla Park's amazing amphibians!


California Red-legged Frog, Rana draytonii, photo by Joshua Asel

Save The Frogs Day 2017 at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park

Sylvan Heights Bird Park in North Carolina hosted a Save The Frogs Day celebration on April 29, 2017. Visitors to the park were able to experience wetland and frog connection activities, along with informational displays about Save The Frogs Day, how to help amphibians and ACTUAL frog and toad species from the surrounding wetland/pond areas. All visitors had multiple learning opportunities which provided insight into the plight of amphibians and helped develop an awareness of frogs and frog conservation in the United State and around the world!

North Carolina Bird Park STF Day 1

Read more: Save The Frogs Day 2017 at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park

Save The Frogs Day at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

"We had a wonderful "Save the Frogs Day" event at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park! We had record attendance - over 50 participants! There was a presentation, than on to active frog learning games outside with a hike to the pond for viewing. In the following week, we held an art contest with State Park prizes such as camping and boating! Our local newspaper placed the event in several editions of the paper and Save the Frogs Day made the front page of today's paper as well. I enjoy being part of the Save the Frogs community and look forward to assisting in the future as opportunities become available!" - Save The Frogs Day organizer Autumn K

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SAVE THE FROGS! Gainesville is the USA's most active chapter of SAVE THE FROGS!. Based in Gainesville, Florida our mission is to protect Florida amphibian populations, to educate Florida citizens about amphibians, and to support the broader efforts of SAVE THE FROGS!. You can contact us at gainesville@savethefrogs.com.

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