Local Conservation Fund Feature Project: Northern Leopard Frogs

The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP), in partnership with the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) and Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), provide funding for projects that benefit conservation in the area from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats through the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF) and in the rural areas around Kootenay Lake through the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund (KLLCF). The purpose of these funds is to provide local financial support for important projects that will contribute to the conservation of our valuable natural areas; one step towards restoring and preserving a healthy environment.

NLF_POhanjanian This month’s Local Conservation Fund feature project is Reintroducing Northern Leopard Frogs to the Columbia marshes by the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners. Project partners include the BC Ministry of Environment, FWCP, and Calgary Zoo.

Although northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) were historically widespread in the Columbia marshes, this species experienced a catastrophic decline in the western parts of its range, persisting only in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. The Rocky Mountain population of northern leopard frog is considered federally Endangered and reintroduction to historic range is a high priority action leading to species’ recovery.

This project aims to reintroduce northern leopard frogs into the Columbia Wetlands near Brisco. From 2013 to 2016, approximately 4,000 leopard frog tadpoles that were bred in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium, as well as over 10,000 tadpoles taken from the wild at Creston, were released at the Brisco site. Follow- up surveys have shown that the tadpoles have survived each year and successfully metamorphosed into froglets.

The re-establishment of northern leopard frogs in their historic range in the Columbia Wetlands has great conservation value – biodiversity of the wetlands is now once again richer than prior to the reintroduction. It is expected that, with the continued conservation actions of monitoring and augmentation, the leopard frog will once again be widespread.

NLF Release_POhanjanian NLF research_Larry Halverson