Grant aims to restore rare frog
Money to purchase larger tadpole habitats
SOCIAL CIRCLE — A frogmonitoring program will be receiving some much-needed funds to improve a scarce frog’s chances for survival.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Atlanta Botanical Garden and The Nature Conservancy of Georgia conduct The Gopher Frog Headstarting Project to help Georgia’s rarest frog species.
Grants totaling $1,890 will cover the cost of a new, larger and more effective rearing system for raising gopher frog tadpoles. Permanent 110-gallon reservoirs and filter systems are being installed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden to help rear tadpoles.
“This will allow us to raise a larger number of tadpoles more efficiently and under better conditions,” said Ron Gagliardo, amphibian conservation coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Gopher frogs have been documented at fewer than 10 sites in Georgia.
This unique frog with a large head and an appetite for other frogs is found almost exclusively in the Coastal Plain’s longleaf pine ecosystem. Gopher frogs live in gopher tortoise burrows, stump holes and other underground homes in flatwoods, sandhills and pine scrub areas.
The species faces significant threats, such as habitat destruction and fish stocked in breeding areas, and is considered a highpriority amphibian by Georgia’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, a guide for conservation.
Approximately 68 tadpoles were released into a pond in Williams Bluffs Preserve in Early County in 2007. The 1,980acre tract of land owned by The Nature Conservancy is the only designated recipient site in Georgia for gopher frogs at this time.
Portions of seven egg masses have been collected this year, resulting in nearly 1,700 tadpoles. They are being reared at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for eventual release.
Groups contributing funds for the new rearing system include the Georgia Herpetological Society, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group and Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton, Mass.
Information on how to help conserve Georgia’s nongame wildlife — such as through buying a nongame wildlife license plate or making a donation to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” state income tax checkoff — are available at www.georgiawildlife.com.