Saturday, 24 March 2012

Frogs - Gone But Not Forgotten

By Beck Ritchie 

A few years ago, the small steam alongside Doctors Point Road, opposite the Erne Street and Foyle Street intersections, was cleared of willows.

The jungle of greenery and tall trees was dug out and left a barren a clay ditch. When wildflowers and grasses took over they were sprayed, up to and including the stream bed itself, which was home to a families of paradise and mallard ducks at the time. As I remember, the stream was sprayed again later, then planted out with flax.

Prior to its being cleared one could hear frogs when one walked past that stretch of slow water at dusk. Since the willows were cleared there has been no sound of frogs. I have asked others whether frogs are still to be heard there and they too have noticed their absence.

I am deeply concerned that no frogs survived that upheaval. I am equally concerned that their habitat was destroyed in the first place. Now that this is slow water again, clogged no longer with willows but with flax and water weeds, is it not time to reintroduce the frogs? Given that they are a dangerously declining species, is it possible that the Otago Regional Council has been negligent in this matter?

Given that frogs are said to be the canaries of the water (as coal miners used canaries to warn them of gas, since the canary was the first to die) is this indicative of the water quality declining, that frogs have not re-established themselves there, or is it purely the wholesale destruction of their habitat those few years ago?

Does anybody else share this concern, or has anybody seen or heard any sign of frogs in that small stream recently? I am already writing to the ORC concerning this. Are there other destructive public works practices occurring in our locality that we should be letting the ORC and or DOC know about? Write about it.



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