Bullfrog explosion plaguing B.C. |Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|07/12/04 at 23:26:26|richard_f|xx|0||Bullfrog explosion plaguing B.C.

Last Updated Thu, 08 Jul 2004 18:52:30

LANGLEY, BC - American bullfrogs as big as chickens are multiplying rapidly in British Columbia, causing headaches for homeowners and environmentalists trying to control the population.

The frogs were imported into the province in the 1930s to supply restaurants with gourmet frogs' legs. When the industry failed, the frogs were released into the wild and caused no problem for decades.

In the past 15 years, though, they started to breed rapidly, take over habitat throughout the southwest B.C. and devour native frogs to the point where the red-legged frog is now an endangered species.

Caroline Astley of Langley's Environmental Partners Society says her group helped residents trap frogs and scoop tadpoles out of ponds for years.

Now the society's government funding has been cut because the bullfrogs aren't putting anyone in immediate danger, and that means residents are on their own.

Astley says the invasive species still needs to be eradicated because of the threat it poses to other animals.

"They'll eat fish that are there. They'll eat salamanders. They'll eat pretty much anything in their path," she says. "They'll take ducklings as well."

On the surface, Karen MacGregor's cat Boots looks like a frisky feline.

But one step too close to the Langley household's pond transforms her into one cautious cat, thanks to an unfortunate encounter three years ago.

"She was sitting on the edge of this pond right beside this big bullfrog and I said, 'Boots, don't go near that bullfrog,'" says MacGregor. "I turned and went into the barn, and just a second or so later, she came hobbling in. She was crying and crying and dragging her hind leg. She was soaking wet and I knew the bullfrog had got her."

Bullfrogs are still causing trouble in the MacGregor pond.

"They've killed the fish," MacGregor says. "We put 100 fish in there and all but one are gone."