Critically endangered tadpoles that were evacuated in August from remote locations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks to the Oakland Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo have morphed into healthy mountain yellow-legged frogs, the National Park Service has announced.
“Mountain yellow-legged frogs are getting hammered by non-native trout and disease, and urgent intervention was needed to keep two populations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks from disappearing,” said Danny Boiano, aquatic ecologist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The Park Service said zoo biologists met a helicopter in Three Rivers and made a four-hour drive with 270 tadpoles to the Bay Area, where the rare animals are housed in quarantine areas at both zoos.
The morphed frogs were treated for a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis. The highly infectious disease has caused more than 200 species of frogs and salamanders to become extinct worldwide within the last 15 years.
The rapid and severe decline of the Northern District Population Segment of mountain yellow-legged frogs led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list them for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2014.
“If this emergency salvage hadn’t occurred, considerably more than 90 percent of these individuals might not have survived, and we’d (potentially) lose both of these critical populations,” said Steven Detwiler, senior scientist with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento office, which helped coordinate the effort to save them.