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)

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"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.

rana catesbeiana jock branson
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.

bullfrog importation
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.

san francisco bullfrogs market
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

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