Invasive American Bullfrogs are now migrating from Idaho into the Creston area. This is bad news for local ecosystems, and for the American Bullfrog action team, who have been working to prevent this invasion.
Why are Bullfrogs a problem? The American Bullfrog is listed as one of the 100 worst alien invasive species internationally due to its adaptable, prolific, competitively exclusive, and predatory nature. Bullfrogs are notoriously voracious ambush predators. When Bullfrogs inhabit areas to which they are not native, they out-compete native amphibian species for food and habitat, and they produce up to ten times more offspring each year than native frogs. This is bad news for the many at-risk species that call the Creston wetlands home.
“If American Bullfrogs become established in the Creston area the consequences could be devastating for the local endangered Northern Leopard Frog population. Bullfrogs are known to eat anything that fits into their mouths, including other frogs. In addition, they are carriers of a pathogen that has caused high mortality in amphibians across the globe,” says Khaylish Fraser, CKISS Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator.
The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS), has been working in partnership with multiple stakeholders as part of the American Bullfrog action team, in order to prevent the invasive frogs from heading north into Creston. An early detection and rapid response surveillance program was implemented, and the area has been under regular monitoring since the summer of 2015.
Thanks to the keen observations of a local conservation enthusiast, two adult Bullfrogs (male and female) were identified at a lake south of Creston, and two more adults were spotted in an adjacent inlet of the Kootenay River during the summer of 2016. Sadly, in 2017 Bullfrogs were once again detected in this area of Creston, which confirms that they are continuing to migrate from their southern habitat.
Efforts are currently underway to capture the invaders and to determine the extent of the population. The American Bullfrog action team has ramped up its efforts to keep these invasive frogs at bay by working on eDNA sampling, conducting nocturnal eyeshine surveys in high risk areas and increasing eradication efforts on existing Bullfrog populations.
The American Bullfrog has a distinct loud, low pitch bellow. To ensure early detection, the team has installed several song meters in the Creston area to capture the sound of Bullfrogs calling. Song meters are weatherproof acoustic recorders capable of capturing large amounts of wildlife data. Recently, one of these song meters was tampered with and damaged, resulting in the loss of valuable scientific data. The American Bullfrog action team asks for the publics’ co-operation by leaving the song meters undisturbed in order to make successful wildlife acoustic recordings that will be analyzed for Bullfrogs calls.
With multiple confirmed sightings in the area, the CKISS warns that the likelihood of further invasions is high, and is asking the public to be on the lookout and to report sightings of Bullfrogs to kootenayBullfrog@gov.bc.ca. In addition, parents are asked not to permit their children to capture, raise, or transport tadpoles or frogs of any kind, as this is one of the most common ways that Bullfrogs are introduced to new areas.
For information on how to identify Bullfrogs, visit the CKISS website at www.ckiss.ca or stop by the CKISS Outreach Booth on Saturday August 5th from 9am-1pm at the Creston Farmers’ Market. You can come see what a real Bullfrog looks and sounds like!
Bullfrog sightings can be reported by Phone: 250-354-6333 or Email: kootenayBullfrog@gov.bc.ca. (Remember when reporting sightings, please note where and when you spotted/heard it and take a photo if possible.)