Times Colonist

Metchosin balks at cost of battling invader frogs

Municipali­ty hopes use of volunteers will reduce company’s $3,200 quote

- BILL CLEVERLEY

Metchosin wants to do battle with the invasive American bullfrog, but it’s hoping to do it on the cheap.

“We’re going to try to kill bullfrogs,” Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said yesterday. “We’re committed to get rid of them but the cost is a little bit high.”

Three or four Metchosin ponds are thought to be in early stages of colonizati­on by the aggressive amphibians that can grow big enough to swallow ducklings, baby turtles, garter snakes and nesting birds.

Biologist Stan Orchard, who has founded the company BullfrogCo­ntrol.com Inc., has given the municipali­ty a quote of up to $3,200 to wipe the frogs out before they firmly establish and start to migrate.

Ranns said for a small municipali­ty like his, even $3,200 is a big expense.

“But we’ve got a couple of people who have volunteere­d that have biology degrees that would be happy to assist him. We want to see if we can get a price reduction if we can provide the volunteers.”

Orchard wrote to the municipali­ty last year saying the appearance of the frogs is “curious” as there had been no reports of American bullfrogs between the Metchosin ponds and Glen Lake.

He said the frogs probably were imported and didn’t migrate to the area.

A detailed survey of the sites this year would cost about $1,500 for three days’ work while locating and eradicatin­g the frogs in all three ponds would cost between $2,400 and $3,200.

Orchard says the best approach is to remove the frogs as quickly as possible before they start to move.

“I had a look and you could see a lot of juveniles and not a lot of adults, which would suggest it’s in the early stages of colonizati­on,” he said.

“But once you get a generation of tadpoles that have metamorpho­sed into juveniles — that’s primarily the life stage at which they migrate. So on warm, rainy evenings a certain proportion of those will leave those ponds and they’ll just take off overland and start colonizing new sites.”

Orchard said the frogs can move good distances quickly, pointing out they can leap nine times their own body length.

“The other thing is any adult females that are in there are going to produce anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 or more eggs this year,” he said.

“They won’t reproduce probably until about mid-July to early August so we’ve got a window of opportunit­y still to get in there and get those adults out. Even if we did nothing else but remove the adults, we would at least stop this additional population.”

Orchard said an offer of biologist volunteers from Metchosin probably wouldn’t be of great assistance to his operation, which utilizes trained teams that dazzle frogs with lights, stun them by electrosho­ck and then freeze them.

“The problem, as far as eradicatio­n goes, is that the techniques we use require some certificat­ion and quite a bit of experience and training as well,” he said.

Orchard has been actively working to stop the spread of the frogs westward from Saanich, where population­s are firmly establishe­d, into the Greater Victoria’s Sooke Lake watershed.

This year, he has received $20,000 in funding from each of Capital Regional District Parks and CRD Water, $10,000 from Langford and $2,000 from Sooke. The CRD is trying to coordinate contributi­ons from all 13 municipali­ties in the region.

The provincial government has rejected applicatio­ns for funding and Orchard’s applicatio­n to the federal government’s Alien Invasive Species Partnershi­p Program was not successful.

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