Santa Cruz County has an infestation on its hands and the sounds of “ribbit, ribbit, ribbit” are proof. The board of supervisors could make Santa Cruz the first county in the nation to ban the import, sale and possession of American bullfrogs. These little buggers have wreaked havoc on local ecosystems because they are not native to the West Coast; consequently, they have spread diseases and have endangered native smaller species like the California Red-Legged Frog. Bullfrogs eat other amphibians and their size allows them to outcompete other species for food. In February, supervisors will formally consider imposing a ban, as millions are imported every year from countries like China and Mexico.
While the county would like to see the state act on this matter by imposing a statewide ban, the county’s Fish and Game Advisory Commission chair Russel Maridon has pointed out that action has been lacking on the state level so Santa Cruz is stepping up to the plate. In a letter to the board about the potential ban, Mardion wrote the following:
“While the State of California Fish and Game Commission has twice voted ban the importation and sale of bullfrogs, the Department of Fish and Game still allows it. Therefore—in addition to initiating development of language to ban bullfrog importation and sales in the County—we also encourage the [Board of Supervisors] to contact California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird to communicate its concerns about this matter and ask that he review the state commission’s relative inaction on this matter.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark W. Stone also penned a letter to the board voicing his support for the ban. You can view Stone’s letter here. Reportedly the problems created by bullfrogs was first brought to the attention of officials by the organization Save the Frogs, which is based in Santa Cruz. The non-profit is hoping the county will set an important precedent that will also raise awareness.