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Drama In The Sierras

Mountain Yellow-legged Frog

In California's Sierra Mountains, a drama is being played out pitting a rare, native frog against a very popular non-native fish.

The mountain yellow-legged frog, recently proposed as an endangered species, has been disappearing from the regions' alpine lakes. Although wind-borne pesticides and a certain fungus have impacted the frog, the main culprits are trout originally introduced as game fish during the early twentieth century.

The trout eat the frogs and their tadpoles, and the National Parks Service has already removed the trout from some lakes in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. While some sport fishers see the need to protect the frogs, others say efforts to conserve them have gone too far.

A compromise seems to be working. In trout-free lakes, frog populations are thriving, and birds and insects that contribute to ecological balance have returned. And, happily, most anglers agree that there are still enough lakes with self-sustaining trout populations to enjoy their sport.

Script by Bob Rhein
Copyright 2007, Catalina Island Conservancy

Image by Peter Epanchin and used by permission of the Sacramento Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.