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Threatened Species Returns To National Parks In California

Flo Gardipee/USFWS
 

Flo Gardipee/USFWS

Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and Lake Tahoe National Forest will see the return of two rare species. The San Francisco Zoo is helping reintroduce the California red-legged frog and Western pond turtle, both native species.

The federally threatened California red-legged frog is the same frog made famous in Mark Twain’s “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

In Yosemite National Park, poor management decisions made decades ago led to their populations plummeting there.

They were nearly killed off because American bullfrogs were placed in a pond in front of the Ahwanhee hotel in the 1950’s. Those bullfrogs eat other amphibians. Scott Gediman with the Park Service says Western pond turtles were similarly eaten.

“They’ve been preyed upon by raccoons. We’ve had unusually high populations of raccoons due to our open dump sites and a lot of people unfortunately being careless with trash,” Gediman says.

The San Francisco Zoo is helping raise and breed both species. Over the next several years 4,000 tadpoles, 500 adult frogs, and 100 adult Western pond turtles will be reintroduced to establish self-sustaining breeding populations.