We might soon see a critically endangered frog species in South Mississippi move away from the rage of extinction through repopulation. This will be possible primarily due to a program introduced by the Gautier-based Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The frog species in question i.e. dusky gopher frogs are native to the Harrison County.
On Friday, 56 frogs of the above-mentioned species were released into a pond in the Jackson County refuge. This takes the total number of dusky gopher frogs released since the month of May to 1,074. Here, it must be noted that this particular frog species has been a regular name on the list of endangered species since 2001.
Angie Dedrickson, a wildlife biologist, said that they are releasing an existing population of dusky gopher frogs from Saucier, Harrison County to repopulate them somewhere else. Dedrickson added that following this relocation of the dusky gophers to Jackson County, the South Mississippi refuge will have two frog species tagged as critically endangered. The other critically endangered frog species residing here is the Mississippi sandhill crane.
The wildlife biologist informed that the eggs of frogs get hatched in Saucier; the tadpoles are them sent to the refuge. Upon reaching the refuge, the tadpoles get divided into 50 tanks filled with water, sweet gum leaves and pine straw; use of these components, make the environment of the tanks much like the natural habitat of the gopher frogs.
When the tadpoles grow into frogs, they are released into their natural habitat i.e. a pond. However, before being released into the pond, a tracking device is attached on the left leg of each frog. This allows Dedrickson and her team to follow the amphibians’ actions and progress.
Although the entire process form birth of tadpoles to relocation of grown up frogs into ponds takes just a few months to complete, Dedrickson believes that they will need to wait for a few more years to see this project showing desired results.
She said that male frogs become reproductively mature when they turn 1 year old; however, the females develop reproductive abilities between the ages of two and four years. So, to find out whether actually the newly released frogs are repopulating, Dedrickson and her team will need to wait for at least for another two years.