In the spring and early summer each year, amphibians typically return to the ponds and vernal pools where they hatched from eggs and grew as young tadpoles and larval salamanders. If vernal pools are filled as humans change the landscape, the adult frogs and salamanders sometimes mistakenly end up in a swimming pool or other structure containing water. What should we do when we find the adults, eggs or young amphibians in these places and want to help?
To protect wildlife and prevent the spread of disease the recommendations of NEPARC (Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation):
* DO NOT TRANSPORT WILDLIFE. To reduce the spread of disease, fish, amphibians and reptiles should not be released in areas where they did not originate. This includes transportation and release of live or dead animals.
* If you frequent wetlands, be sure to decontaminate your boots and other gear between each visit. Items that come into contact with water NEED to be cleaned prior to entering another wetland. For decontamination procedures and other information, visit the NEPARC website.
Habitat loss and pollution threaten the survival of frogs and salamanders, but recently amphibian disease is considered to be perhaps the most serious threat. Humans may be the primary transmitters of ranavirus and other diseases, which can cause die-offs of wood frogs and other vernal pool breeding amphibians.
Moving the amphibians to a nearby pool or wetland that is likely the place where they originated would be the best option and the least likely to spread disease.
Another option, if it is possible, is to leave the young amphibians in the swimming pool to allow them to grow to adult frogs or salamanders in place. Wood frogs, toads and spring peepers, as well as Jefferson and Spotted salamanders, will become adults and leave the pools by the end of summer. Provide the adults a way to climb out of the pools. Burlap hanging over the edge of the swimming pool sounded like a great escape route for the tiny frogs and salamanders.
Thanks for looking out for these critters!
-Naturalist Dottie Drockton