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Mountain yellow-legged frogs could not survive

August 17, 2011 |  4:50 pm

Yellow-legged frogs

Officials announced this week the deaths of 104 mountain yellow-legged frogs that had been rescued from the fire-stripped San Gabriel Mountains in 2009.

The federally endangered frogs, which recently metamorphosed from the tadpole stage, died in captive breeding tanks over the last several weeks at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

"We have two frogs left. We're trying to determine exactly what happened," said Scott Barton, director of the zoo, which is highly regarded for amphibian husbandry. "We were thrown a curve ball with a species that was new to us. It's been a humbling experience."

For thousands of years, mountain yellow-legged frogs thrived in hundreds of streams cascading down the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountains.

Since the 1960s, the species has been decimated by fires, mudslides, pesticides, fungal infections, loss of habitat and the appetites of nonnative trout, bullfrogs and crayfish.

Today, fewer than 200 are believed to exist in nine isolated wild populations, including a group in the San Gabriel Mountains' Devils Canyon that survived the devastating Station fire.


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--Louis Sahagun

Photo: San Diego Zoo