International Save the Frog Day is Friday, April 29th. How will you celebrate? I'm only a part-time frogger, having more experience with the arcade game of the same name than with the 28 species of frog and toad in Florida (Ashton & Ashton), 42 species in the Southeast (Dorcas & Gibbons), or the 101 species in the U.S. (Elliott, Gerhardt, and Davidson). But I do see them from time to time in the field, the backyard, or the house (in that last case, casa de my inlaws in Atascadero, CA). And as one of the oldest lineages in the animal kingdom (for those of you still into phylogenetic classification rather than cladistics), I have great sympathy for these little amphibians, seen here at Royal Palm Pines in 2007: one event registered in Florida, up near Tampa. Sounds like a worthwhile evening, if you're in the neighborhood. It's a bit far for me to get there from SoFla, though. Since I doubt I'll be able to make an event in the field, I think I'll do what I can (and you can, too) from my armchair: write a letter to the EPA asking them to ban one of the most effective killers of frogs out there: atrazine. Remember how sea turtles kept getting caught in fishing nets, until a bunch of concerned citizens pestered NOAA and the fisheries to invent TEDs? Until then, dead turtles were just called "bycatch" in the industry. Now, the problem is greatly reduced, because we took the time to understand the issue and come up with a simple solution. The same thing is possible here. We can significantly reduce frog and amphibian "bycatch" if EPA will simply write a rule outlawing the human and amphibian menace, atrazine. (If you want to read a chilling account of frog mutation from the 1990s, check out William Souder's A Plague of Frogs. Not pretty.) Here's what the Center for Biological Diversity has to say:
To recognize Save the Frogs Day, the Center for Biological Diversity is teaming up with other environmental organizations to call on the EPA to ban the toxic pesticide atrazine. Atrazine is a widely used weed killer that chemically castrates male frogs at extremely low concentrations and is linked to significant human and wildlife health concerns, including endocrine disruption, birth defects, fertility problems and certain cancers. Atrazine is the most common contaminant of groundwater, surface water and drinking water nationwide. It's time to ban atrazine to protect imperiled frogs and other wildlife. There's no reason to continue use of this poisonous contaminant given the mounting evidence of harm to humans and endangered species. Please take action -- send a letter to the EPA today. ****************************************** Click here to find out more and take action: http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6526So take a minute and help our web-footed friends, won't you? References Ashton, R. & Ashton, P. (1988). Handbook of reptiles and amphibians of Florida. Part three: The amphibians. Miami: Windward. Dorcas, M. & Gibbons, W. (2008). Frogs and toads of the southeast. Athens: U of Georgia. Elliot, L., Gerhardt, C., & Davidson, C. (2009). Frogs and toads of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Souder, W. (2000). A plague of frogs: unraveling an environmental mystery. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota.