Santa Monica Mountains biologists attempting to re-introduce the California red-legged frog
By Chad Winthrop
It’s been a challenging two years since the Woolsey Fire swept through the Santa Monica Mountains where biologists have been trying to re-introduce the California red-legged frog, but recent rain may help the beleaguered amphibian’s recovery.
The species is listed as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act and has not been found in the Santa Monica Mountains since the 1970s. The goal of a project being undertaken by the National Parks Service (NPS), is to reintroduce the beleaguered amphibian back into the Santa Monica Mountains by translocating egg masses from a nearby source population of California red-legged frogs.
“Our biologists report that in one of the four translocation sites, breeding activity is back to pre-fire numbers. That’s great news! Sadly, the other three reintroduction sites remain heavily silted from mudslides that occurred when it rained post-fire and there is no suitable breeding habitat for the frogs,” said NPS Ranger Ana Beatriz.
Last fall, the NPS found adult frogs at all sites that had survived the fire and silt and these frogs are more resilient than expected, In 2020, however, the frogs were much harder to find.
“The vegetation is thick and there are few good pools for the frogs to hang out in. We will try to find them again when we conduct more night surveys in a couple of months,” Beatriz said.
Also, unlike in past years, Beatriz says the decision was made to not transfer egg masses or release any tadpoles into any of the reintroduction streams this year because the streams were in “such a sad state.”
“So, all frog lovers out there, cross your fingers and send positive thoughts that we will get a few good storms this winter to scour out some pools and help the habitat recover. If that happens, then we hope to move eggs from our source population in March,” Beatriz said.