Since 2010, WPC has been breeding and reintroducing thousands of Oregon spotted tadpoles and froglets back into wetlands in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. It takes years of careful observation, collaboration, ingenuity and sometimes a little luck to crack the code to breeding specific species. For several years, our progress was very limited. But our team persevered. Today, WPC has pioneered breeding techniques that are turning the tide for this species.

Amphibians, including frogs, play a vital role in ecosystems worldwide. They contribute to controlling insect populations, serve as prey for various predators, and even act as indicators of environmental health. However, many frog species are under threat due to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and disease. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), around 40% of amphibian species are currently at risk of extinction. Our conservation breeding program has grown extensively in the past five years, releasing tens of thousands of tadpoles and froglettes to restored populations and we are continuing to grow and expand that program.

In the world of wildlife conservation, innovative and sometimes unconventional methods are often employed to save endangered species. In this case, it involved shipping Oregon spotted frogs from an assurance population from the Toronto Zoo to WPC’s  conservation program at WPC’s facility at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

The relocation of these frogs by air was in partnership with the Toronto Zoo. We received animals from their assurance population into our breeding program after their long flight across the country. These frogs haven’t been successful in breeding at Toronto, but will be adopted into our program and our new breeding methods to hopefully produce successful eggs in 2025!

Shipping frogs across the country is no small feat. First they have veterinary health screening prior to shipping, they require permits to move from both shipping and receiving locations, they require specialised enclosures to ensure they are safe during transport and they will require special coordination with the airline to ensure their timely movement and correct temperature during transport.

Why Fly?!

  1. Rapid Transport: Airplanes provide a fast and efficient means of transporting frogs over long distances. This is particularly important for species that need to be moved quickly for their well being.
  2. Safety and Comfort: Specialized containers ensure that frogs are transported safely and securely, minimizing stress and the risk of injury during transit. Temperature and humidity levels can also be controlled to mimic their natural habitat conditions.
  3. Genetic Diversity: By relocating frogs to new habitats or in our case to join our captive breeding population, we can promote genetic diversity within populations. This helps to strengthen their resilience against environmental changes and diseases.

Flying frogs for conservation purposes may seem unconventional, but it represents a critical step towards protecting biodiversity and ensuring the survival of vulnerable species. By addressing the unique challenges faced by frogs through innovative methods, we can contribute to the broader effort of preserving our planet’s natural heritage for future generations.

Through collaboration and ongoing research, we strive to create a world where frogs and other threatened species not only survive but thrive in their natural habitats. So, the next time you hear about frogs taking flight, remember that it’s not just a journey—it’s a leap towards a more sustainable and biodiverse future.

Andrea Gielens

Lead Biologist – Fraser Valley Wetlands Wildlife

Andrea manages WPC’s captive breeding and release programs for the Oregon spotted frog and the coastal western painted turtle. Andrea has studied at-risk reptiles and amphibians in Canada and abroad, including a term at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey. Andrea also manages the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly recovery program in BC.

Andrea Gielens

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