Leap Year S.O.S.: Local Frogs Face World Problem

Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx and Queens Zoos, along with Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), partner on citizen-science program to study diminishing frog species

New York locations of one native cricket frogs have dropped from 25 to only three or four over the last decade

New York – March 1, 2012 – Just in time for “Leap Day,” the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo and Queens Zoo have partnered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to lead a citizen-science program to monitor frogs – many of which are unfortunately not able to leap out of the path of rapidly approaching extinction.

Called Frogwatch USA, the program will engage New Yorkers through hands-on work, data collection, and field trips to local natural areas to survey frogs. Frogwatch USA is a national citizen-science program administered by the AZA where individuals learn about wetlands in their communities and help identify where local populations of native frogs and toads are living by reporting their unique and individual calls. The Queens Zoo and Bronx Zoo are two of the many participating AZA-accredited facilities.

Frogs and toads play an important role in the environment, serving as both prey and predator in wetland ecosystems and are considered to be reliable indicators of environmental health. However, many species of frogs and toads are in major decline across the world due to climate change, disease, and wetland destruction. In New York alone, cricket frog sites have dropped from 25 to only three or four over the last 10 years.

Frogwatch USA allows volunteers to do something to help save amphibians just by listening to frog calls and collecting data anywhere frogs exist. The volunteers attend training sessions conducted by WCS staff where they will learn the call of all 12 species that live in the tri-state area. All of the data collected goes to WCS biologists and a national database that monitors population trends. This will show whether certain populations have fluctuated or remained the same year-to-year.

“Frogs are in decline almost everywhere. Now, thanks to citizen-science programs such as Frogwatch USA people can do something right in their own backyard to help save these amazing animals,” said Scott Silver, Director of the Queens Zoo. “Frogwatch USA will be a fun, educational and rewarding experience for all those who participate.”

Frogwatch USA surveys take place throughout the spring, summer and fall. Surveying begins at night, about 30 minutes after sunset when these amphibians are most vocal.

WCS works around the world in 60 countries to save wildlife and wild places. Through expansive population surveys, high-tech tools like camera traps and satellite collars, and collaboration with a wide array of local, national and international partners, WCS conserves key wildlife populations around the world, working with more than 350 species including frogs and other amphibians.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Adult admission is $16, children (3-12 years old) $12, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $14. Parking is $13 for cars and $16 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22, MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.) To plan your trip, visit www.bronxzoo.com or call 718-367-1010.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo – Open every day of the year. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for kids 3-12, free for children under 3. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. weekends, April through October, and 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily, November through April. The Queens Zoo is located at 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park in Queens. For further information, call 718-271-1500 or visit www.queenszoo.com .

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