University-run PA to host first-ever reintroduction of yellow-legged frogs into the wild

The endangered mountain yellow-legged frog will take a major step in its recovery this week when, for the first time, scientists reintroduce its eggs to its former habitat. This reintroduction will occur at University of California Riverside’s James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve, part of the UC Natural Reserve System, and will be done in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the California Department of Fish and Game.

Once common throughout much of southern California, the mountain yellow-legged frog has been decreasing in numbers since the 1970s due to what scientists call the “perfect storm” that is affecting frog populations around the globe—decreasing habitat, increasing pollution and invasive species, the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus and the effects of climate change. Today, only a small wild population of less than 200 individuals can be found in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains.

In 2006, scientists collected mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles from the remaining wild populations in the San Jacinto Mountains and took them to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research where, for the first time, specialists were able to establish a captive breeding program for the species. This year’s reproductive season at the Zoo has been so successful that scientists have decided to attempt a reintroduction into the wild.

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