Chiricahua leopard frogs released into the wild

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The Chiricahua leopard frog.(Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department) The Chiricahua leopard frog.(Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

A threatened species of frog got a leg up when over 500 new frogs were released into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

“The Chiricahua leopard frog nearly vanished from eastern Arizona due to habitat degradation, but these dedicated agencies and local ranchers each worked collaboratively to help restore wetland habitats in 2016,” said Audrey Owens, biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department(AGFD). “This important work has given this animal a true fighting chance.”

The AGFD worked in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management New Mexico (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC), the USDA Agricultural Research Service Jornada Experimental Range (JER), the Turner Endangered Species Fund, and the New Mexico Game and Fish Department (NMGFD).

The organizations transported egg masses from the leopard frogs to a rearing facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. By raising the tadpoles in a controlled environment, scientists were able to raise the survival rate from less than 5% to over 90%.

Scientists released the 454 juvenile frogs and late stage tadpoles back into the restored environment in September. There are plans to raise and release more frogs in the spring.

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