Awarded to the Calgary Zoo (2019, 2020) and previously to the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners to re-establish self-sustaining populations of endangered northern leopard frogs in the Columbia marshes through the continuing release and monitoring of large numbers over several years, which is vital for reintroduction to succeed.
PROPONENT: Calgary Zoo
DESCRIPTION: Once widespread and numerous, northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) began to disappear from many wetlands, including in southeastern British Columbia, in the 1970s and 80s. In British Columbia, there is only a single remnant population, located in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA). Northern leopard frogs are important to the environment because they provide a crucial link between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and are important for proper nutrient cycling.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this project is to reintroduce endangered northern leopard frogs to the Columbia marshes using conservation translocations to recover northern leopard frogs and prevent local extinction within the province. Using a 3-pronged approach – wild-to-wild translocations, releases of tadpoles bred and head-started at the Calgary Zoo and the Vancouver Aquarium – the target is to release 8,000 tadpoles per year over the next three years, to reestablish leopard frogs in the Columbia marshes.
In 2019, using a combination of wild-to-wild translocations, head-starting, and captive breeding, the Calgary Zoo was able to release over 4,100 tadpoles, 59 young-of-year, and 8 juvenile northern leopard frogs at the Brisco reintroduction site. This was more than double the number of individuals than in each of the previous two years. The overwinter survival of at least 2 frogs was confirmed, demonstrating that suitable overwintering habitat is present at the release site.
This project is important for supporting biodiversity and to help return an important community member of the wetland ecosystem to the Upper Columbia Valley. This project clearly links with the purpose of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund – to support projects that contribute to the conservation of valuable natural areas and ensure a healthy physical environment for future generations.
PHOTOS: Penny Ohanjanian, Larry Halverson