This is no innocent frog.
The frog, known as the African clawed frog (yes, it has claws) is predatory, invasive, reproduces quickly and tested positive for a virus. And a whole bunch of them had settled into a stormwater pond system near Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
The city of Lacey, which updated Lacey City Council last week on efforts to eradicate the critter, worked with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to come up with a plan to trap, test, contain and eliminate thousands of the amphibians from three ponds at the College Regional Stormwater Facility, which collects stormwater from Saint Martin’s and Lacey’s Woodland District, City Manager Scott Spence said Tuesday.
The ponds are located off Abbey Way Southeast on the university campus, but the city operates the facility.
More than 6,000 frogs — 6,106, to be exact — were euthanized over the summer by increasing the salinity of a large, upper pond, said Doug Christenson, water resources engineer for the city of Lacey. Next summer, city and wildlife officials will focus on the smaller east and west ponds.
The frogs were first discovered in late summer 2015 by someone from the state Department of Ecology, who recognized the frogs as not being native to the area, Christenson said. In fact, it was thought to be the first time an African clawed frog has been found in the state, he said.
Because it was a new discovery, it took time to come up with a plan to address the creature, he said.
One step was erecting fencing around the three ponds, both to keep the frogs contained and to keep other animals out of the ponds. The frogs also were tested, and tested positive for ranavirus, which “causes systemic infections in a wide variety of wild and cultured fresh and saltwater fishes.”
Pond water levels rise during the rainy season, so the fencing helped to isolate the frogs, he said. Then, while the water was low over the summer, the salinity was increased to kill the frogs.
Although salt was added to the pond, it will be diluted during the rainy season. Christenson said they don’t want to cause environmental harm while trying to address an environmental problem.
How did the African clawed frog wind up in the ponds?
City officials could only speculate, thinking that perhaps somebody had released their pet there.
Christenson shared this reminder Tuesday.
“Do not dump your pets into the wild,” he said.