THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — National Park Service researchers thrilled with the discovery that a rare species of frog is breeding in the Santa Monica Mountains hope the public will do its part to let nature take its course.
A breeding site of the California red-legged frog, an endangered species, was discovered last week in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to National Park Service spokesman Zach Behrens.
The species has not been seen in the Santa Monica Mountains since the 1970s. Behrens said a population discovered in the nearby Simi Hills in 1999 was relocated into the Santa Monica Mountains in four spots over the past four years in the hopes that the translocated populations would eventually mature, mate, and reproduce on their own.
“I was literally crying when the stream team showed me the photos of egg masses,” Katy Delaney, a National Park Service ecologist with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a statement. “The years of work we’ve put in is showing amazing progress. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but this is a major moment for the project.”
The species was made famous by Mark Twain in his 1865 story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavares County.”
Delaney and the team will continue to move egg masses from the Simi Hills source population into the Santa Monica Mountains at least through next spring, but the partners in the project – including the California State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey, and the U.S. Geological Survey – say they need one more partner: the public.
Park rangers are asking that visitors to the Santa Monica Mountains tread lightly around possible aquatic habitats, such as waterfalls, streams, and ponds.
California red-legged frogs require deep pools of year-round water, which park officials say is not easy to find in the arid climate of the Santa Monica Mountains. Frogs generally also have permeable skin that easily absorbs contaminants and are considered to be an indicator species that reflect the health of their habitats.