Kerry Kriger
Kerry Kriger campaign leader

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WHAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH BULLFROGS IN CALIFORNIA?

American Bullfrogs are the largest frog in North America and naturally occur on the east coast of the United States. Bullfrogs are "gape-limited predators", meaning they eat any living animal that fits in their mouth. As such, they can eat a large variety of native wildlife including frogs, salamanders, birds, bats and snakes. In California, one bullfrog was found with a 33-inch Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas) in its stomach, and bullfrogs are regularly found consuming endangered California Red-Legged Frogs and California Tiger Salamanders. Their voracious appetites are implicated in the declines of more than a dozen North American amphibian species.

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SPREADING LIFE-THREATENING DISEASES

American bullfrogs are a primary contributor to the spread of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), a potentially lethal skin disease that has decimated California's amphibian populations and driven up to 100 amphibian species worldwide to complete extinction in recent decades. In terms of biodiversity loss, chytridiomycosis is the single worst disease in recorded history -- not just for frogs, but for any known organism. Bullfrogs are raised and transported in high density containers where they share water and climb on each other: perfect conditions for the spread of chytrid fungus, which has waterborne zoospores and infects amphibian skin. Several million bullfrogs get imported into San Francisco and Los Angeles each year, primarily from China, Taiwan, Uruguay and Brazil, and a recent study demonstrated that up to 62% of these frogs are infected with the deadly chytrid fungus.

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THE COST OF INVASIVE BULLFROGS

Invasive species are not only one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in California and worldwide, they are also one of the most costly: the Nature Conservancy estimates that invasive species cost Americans 120 billion dollars each year. Bullfrog eradication programs are consistently required to manage threatened amphibian populations throughout California. These programs are resource intensive and thus extremely costly to California's taxpayers when local, state and federal wildlife protection agencies are responsible for their implementation. Similarly, the broader missions of non-governmental organizations are hindered by the resources that get squandered in managing feral bullfrog populations. Furthermore, from an economic standpoint, businesses are often negatively affected by the presence of legally protected endangered species on their property as their development options and business activities become restricted. As bullfrogs contribute to native species being listed as endangered, a reduction in California's bullfrog populations provides a significant economic benefit to a wide variety of businesses and entrepreneurs.

Only an extremely small proportion of California's population benefits economically from the trade in American Bullfrogs, this being (1) restaurants and supermarkets that sell frog legs; (2) pet stores; and (3) biological supply companies that sell bullfrogs for dissection purposes. None of these businesses are reliant exclusively on the sale of bullfrogs. On the contrary, bullfrog sales generally constitute only an extremely small proportion of their business. As such, the removal of bullfrogs from their menus or list of products should not present any major economic problem for these businesses.

"A complete ban on both harvesting native amphibians and importing non-natives is likely the only means of stopping the continued problem of pathogen contamination and over-harvesting of native species".
– Dr. Nina D'Amore, resident amphibian biologist at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

For more information, please visit:
www.savethefrogs.com/bullfrogs

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