Hundreds of endangered frogs raised, set to be released in Grant County

GRANT CO., Wash. – Hundreds of Northern leopard frogs will be released in Grant County later this month. 

The frogs have been considered an endangered species since 1999. There is only one known wild population remaining in Washington state, so the path to recovery is long. 

Authorities believe the frogs’ decline in the Pacific Northwest comes from habitat loss and degradation, disease, non-native species and climate change. 

In an effort to help save the species, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife collected frog eggs earlier this spring. They have been growing for months at the Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and are now almost ready for release. 

By raising eggs through tadpole stage to froglets, partners are working to bypass threats throughout the critical growth stage and establish a new population of frogs in the region. 

“Giving these frogs a headstart by raising them free of predators gives them a better chance of survival,” said Northwest Trek Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman. “We’re very pleased to participate in this critical effort to save an endangered species here in Washington.”   

They will be released into the wild at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. Washington State University researchers will also fit a couple dozen of the frogs with small radio transmitters to help track their movement and monitor their survival. 

Northern leopard frogs make a significant contribution to the environment. Biologist Emily Grabowsky says they are an important indicator of water quality due to their permeable skin. 

“If we improve and conserve wetland habitat that is good for frogs, other species will also benefit ranging from other amphibians to waterfowl and deer,” Grabowsky said.