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Santa Cruz May Ban Bullfrogs

January 24, 2012

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The City of Santa Cruz is considering a ban on bullfrogs. The council is expected to vote today on an ordinance that would make it illegal to buy, sell or possess an American Bullfrog.

Chris Berry, a member of the county Fish and Game Advisory Commission that supports the ban, says bullfrogs are an invasive species that can have a devastating effect on local ecosystems.

"The bullfrogs impact our native amphibians, both because they're a vector for disease - like the chytrid fungus - but they're also extremely prolific breeders and predators, and they'll eat everything from our native amphibians to other threatened species."

Berry says the bullfrog's diet includes the rare California red-legged frog, western pond turtle - and even Coho salmon, which are on the brink of extinction on the north central coast. If the bullfrog ban is approved, Santa Cruz will become the first city in the nation to do so. Santa Cruz County will vote on a similar measure at the end of next month.

Bullfrogs are predominately purchased for use in ponds and water gardens, says Berry, and by teachers for classroom instruction. He believes people will stop buying the bullfrogs when they realize the harm that's being done.

"There are already bullfrogs in the wild here, so we're not going to stop those bullfrogs from continuing to have the impacts they have. But at least we can take this first, logical step and use that as an education tool, and hopefully build off of that."

The group Save the Frogs is currently working to get support for legislation for a statewide ban on bullfrogs.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA