A new batch of the endangered frogs has been released in the wild by the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Jackson County in the hopes that the endangered species can leap its way away from extinction by reproducing inside the refuge.
56 dusky gopher frogs were released in the wild, and this brings the total number of frogs released since May to 1,074.
Since 2001, the dusky gopher frogs are included in the endangered species list; these species are indigenous to Harrison County. The frog is characterized as stocky with body length measuring about 3 inches.
One of the feature of this frog is it puts its hands in front of its face to shield its eyes if it feels threatened or exposed to bright light.
A wildlife biologist, Angie Dedricken said that they are taking the frog population from Harrison County to Jackson County. The frogs have hatched in Saucier but the tadpoles are moved to refuge, where another endangered species, Mississippi sandhill crane lives.
The tadpoles are divided into total of 50 tanks. The tanks contain water, pine straw and sweet gum leaves; this will recreate the animal’s habitat. Once the tadpoles mature into frogs they will be released into the wild.
Scientists have tagged the amphibians with the tracking device. The device is placed in the left leg of the frogs before they are released to the pond.
It is necessary because scientists can follow the progress of the species. Although the duration from birth to release only takes a few months, Dedrickson said it will require years before they can measure the project’s success.
The male frogs are ready to reproduce at 1 year old, while the females had to be between 2 and 4 years old before they can be reproductively mature. Dedrickson said it may take at least two years before they will know how the frogs fate at repopulating the area.
The frog has many known predators including snakes, cranes and spiders. Melissa Perez, a ranger from the Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge said however, the frog’s greatest enemy is the shrinking natural environment.
Perez said, “The wet-pines savannah that makes up our refuge is a critically endangered area,” and it is not coincidence that the population of the endangered frogs continues to drop as the refuge gets smaller.