The Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog

It's a pretty amazing world we live in. Dozens of new species are discovered within days of more nearing extinction. I've heard it many times, and it seems almost corny to repeat it, but it has to be true that species have become extinct due habitat destruction, invasive species and who knows what else that we didn't even know existed.

Female mountain yellow-legged frog: Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

An example of one "what else" is the story of what's happening to the mountain yellow-legged frog. This little fellow would seem to be quite the survivor, living up to nine months under snow and ice in the Sierra Nevada range. The populations of these frogs were at one time so great that they were practically a tripping hazard. However this frog is headed towards extinction, fast.

But interestingly, it's not entirely our fault. Introducing trout to the lakes that the frogs had called home for sport fishing and forcing them into smaller more isolated lakes has not helped matters, nor has agricultural pollutants transported to the area by prevailing winds, but it turns out the biggest culprit is a fungus.

The chytrid fungus has caused frog extinctions in other countries, and grows on the skin of the frog, making it hard for them to properly use their pores to control their water intake — they die of thirst while they are living in water. And it is not just the mountain yellow-legged frog that is dying from this fungus, the boreal toad population in Rocky Mountain National Park is also being decimated by this fungus.

And because it is a fungus, not people that are pushing the frogs to extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is struggling to declare the frog an endangered species. Since the fungus is natural and not the by-product of agricultural waste or pollution, it is hard to secure funding to save a frog afflicted with it. Why save a frog that is dying through no fault of ours?

What do you think? Should funding be set aside to save species from extinction if they are becoming extinct through natural causes? Or should we focus our resources on trying to save species that are facing extinction as a direct result of our actions?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Why aren't there facts like if they are poisonous or not? I need some facts for my class because I caught one in my pool. Thank You.

posted on Sun, 04/09/2006 - 8:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If the extinction is strictly based on natural causes, then a limited amount of money should be spent on research and attempts to save the species. The research may provide needed information to solve other problems.
In the case of the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog, the cause is man inflicted and everything should be done to save them and return the ecosystem back to a natural state. Man intoduced the trout for pleasure, which caused the frog to move and they became funerable to the fungus.

posted on Wed, 02/15/2006 - 9:20pm
habitat's picture
habitat says:

I'm doing a project on habitat destruction and I think this website could really help me.

posted on Sat, 05/12/2007 - 12:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

why do we need to save this animal????

posted on Tue, 05/22/2007 - 4:40pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Why do we need to save any animal? I guess a lot of folks ask that question, and it is legit to wonder what value the animal has and if funds should be diverted or raised to save it. My belief is that no matter what value a animal, or plant, or insect may have, if we are the cause of it becoming extinct, then we are responsible for trying to save it. We may be just fine without the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, but I don't feel good at all about being complicit with its extinction.

posted on Tue, 10/30/2007 - 4:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


posted on Mon, 10/29/2007 - 2:11pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

According to mylfrog.info:

Little information is available on time to sexual maturity or adult life span, but frogs likely begin reproducing two years after metamorphosis and adults may live to be ten or more years old.

posted on Tue, 10/30/2007 - 4:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

im doing a project in my biology class and i find this website to be very helpful but i dont get why so many people who have been commenting are so negative. we are animals also, wouldnt you want to be protected from dying or would you prefer people just saying eh let them dye because its just a fungus affecting them we didnt have anything to do with it.also to the person who asked why we need to save it do you realize how many animals help us live because our resources come from theres.

posted on Wed, 11/07/2007 - 5:57pm
Ann Lucker's picture
Ann Lucker says:

Mountain yellow-legged frogs are very cute. But I also think that they need to be moved to other places that dont endanger their way of life they might be moved to somewhere their habiat will not take their lives. So thats all i have to say. Thank you for let me tell you what i think.

posted on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 8:02pm

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