SANTA MONICA, CA – For the first time in seven years, a species of frog listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act was found alive and reproductive in the Santa Monica Mountains, National Parks Traveler reported this week.
Once common in the area, California red leg frogs disappeared from the mountains in the 1970s, according to the National Park Service. It is believed that a combination of habitat degradation, drought, fire, and other factors caused their disappearance.
Scientists intervened in 2014 and deposited frogs and egg masses in pools in the mountains, the park service said. The efforts paid off, and the amphibians continued to live and reproduce organically in the mountains until the Woolsey Fire and subsequent heavy rains in 2018 destroyed their habitats.
Recently, however, surveyors found four California red-legged frog egg masses, as well as a male and a female frog, in the mountains. The find suggested the creature is re-breeding in the wild, National Parks Traveler reported.
While it’s too early to say if the red leg frog sightings spell a full return to the mountains, ecologist Katy Delaney told the publication that she was hopeful.
“This is another step towards our goal of self-sustaining the populations of these frogs in our region,” she said.
Residents and visitors to the mountains can take simple steps to protect endangered species, the valet said.
While hiking, visitors were encouraged to stay on trails, easily enter aquatic habitats, and keep dogs away from the water. Switching to eco-friendly products can also help protect wildlife, especially amphibians, as harsh chemicals can easily penetrate their skin.
Finally, the valet service urged residents not to throw unwanted aquatic animals such as fish, crabs or turtles into the water system, as they pose “the greatest threat to amphibians in the Santa Monica Mountains.”