I’ve had a life-long thing for frogs and toads. Today it is symbolized by a Peace.Frogs wheel cover on my Jeep, but it all began when my rancher father would let me catch scores of bullfrogs and salamanders.
He let me figure out on my own that I needed to punch holes in the gallon jar I kept them in for observation and eventually to “catch and release.”
My dad had a very practical matter-of-fact approach to life and death common to his generation, especially those raised on ranches. Losing a few frogs was probably nothing to someone who had witnessed the horrors of places like the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau as it was liberated.
Shortly, I will be making an annual exploration of the shoreline of a lake with my grandsons that I also frequented beginning in the 1950s when I was their age. Back then friends and I would fill a bucket each night with toads and enjoy a cacophony of frog sounds in the night air.
Now they are rarely if ever seen or heard along that lake in the Rockies and haven’t been since about 1980.
A scientific study published this year by the U.S. Geologic Survey found that at the current rate of decline, frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians that have thrived in our lakes, ponds, streams and rivers for 350 million years will disappear from half of their remaining habitats within 20 years, even on so-called protected lands.
The nine year census indicates the declines are even more alarming then thought. Other studies point to destruction of wetlands and other habitats, drought, polluted run-off, invasive species etc., all brought about by us humans.
My wheel cover is much more than a reflection of the “the peace sign” for which I have been known all of my adult life or my 1960s bonafides. These amphibians are a bellwether, a wake-up call for even the most jaded of cynical climate change deniers.
The declines are even greater across the globe, indicating that environmental policies and practices implemented here over the past 40+ years have moderated what may have been much worse without them.
Unfortunately, extremist lawmakers today seem bent on rolling back these protections, if not from pure hubris, then as payback to those they view as equally extreme. The vast majority of Americans being asked to pay the price.
Many wreaking this havoc profess to be concerned about future generations. They can begin by returning the joy of frogs and toads for my grandsons.