02-19-2017  3:26 pm      •     

LITTLEROCK, Wash. (AP) -- James Goodall cradled a frog in his hand and stroked its belly, trying to soothe its racing heart before slipping it back into a cattle tub filled with water.

He smiled proudly as he watched the little black and green Oregon spotted frog dart away to join the other 28 that he and fellow inmate Harry Greer are responsible for fattening up before spring.

In a fenced off-area behind Cedar Creek Correctional Center called ``Frogga Walla,'' the two men spend nine hours a day feeding and tending to the endangered species.

``We baby them like little kids,'' said Goodall, who is serving time at the prison near Littlerock for possession of drugs with the intent to deliver. ``They've got personalities, too, it seems like.''

Much to the surprise of research scientists and zookeepers also participating in a ``head start'' program to bolster the dwindling population of the frogs, Goodall, 45, and Greer, a 46-year-old convicted robber, have raised the biggest, healthiest amphibians.

``People may not think prisons are the right place for this type of environmental work, but it's the ideal place,'' said Chad Lewis, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

``We have folks with plenty of time in a controlled environment. That's what you need.''

The Oregon spotted frog was listed as an endangered species in Washington in 1997 and currently awaits the same status on the federal list.

``When they begin to disappear, it's a sign that something is wrong with the environment,'' said Dave Ellis, deputy director at Northwest Trek near Eatonville. ``It's a warning to us and by helping species like the spotted frog recover, we're helping save the environment that is key to keeping the bigger environment we live in.''

The program to boost the 2-ounce frogs dwindling population was spearheaded in 2008 by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Eggs are gathered each winter and distributed to Cedar Creek, Northwest Trek, the Oregon Zoo in Portland and Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The amphibians then are coddled and cared for over a nine-month span before being released in the wetlands at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

``It gives them a head start so once they're put back into the wild, they have a better chance of surviving, reproducing and protecting themselves,'' Ellis said.

After years of raising the frogs, their keepers have learned little tricks to help the endangered amphibians survive and strengthen.

They now know to monitor the water constantly, to reduce the number of tadpoles kept in each tank and to be on the lookout for aggressive frogs that might snap up all the food before their meek brethren get a bite.

At Cedar Creek, Greer, who has been looking after the frogs since April, said around-the-clock care enabled their success. The frogs he and Goodall raised are larger (57 grams) and have a higher survival rate (83 percent) than those from the other participating agencies.

``It's a big operation,'' said Marko Anderson, a classification counselor at Cedar Creek who supervises the project and obtained a $5,000 grant to help pay for equipment and assistance from interns at The Evergreen State College.

``It's become the heart of Cedar Creek,'' he said.

The trial-and-error methods at the prison and three zoos seems to have paid off. The number of frogs released this year more than doubled to 1,346, the survivor rate skyrocketed to about 85 percent and participants said the frogs looked healthier.

When the eggs are distributed to the institutions, they are hardly bigger than the tip of a pencil.

At Woodland Park Zoo, about 200 are grouped together in a plastic container with a few inches of water. The Rubbermaid bin floats in a 300-gallon tank so caretakers can control the water's temperature and keep track of the tiny eggs.

Deciding to experiment this year, Northwest Trek's keepers used mesh nets instead of plastic containers and kept their tadpole numbers to under 100 per tank.

``Any project of this nature is a learning process,'' said Keith Neitman, primary frog keeper at Woodland Park Zoo. ``It gets better every year.''

Once the eggs hatch and grow to about an inch long, the tadpoles are given free reign of the tank and fed a labor-intensive meal.

A mixture of kale and romaine lettuce is boiled down and put in a food processor to be ground into a pesto-like consistency. It then is frozen into cubes so it can be easily doled out for several days.

Eventually, the frogs abandon their herbivore lifestyle and become carnivorous. That's where crickets lots and lots of crickets come in.

While head-starting the frogs, Woodland Park Zoo ordered 114,000 crickets each week to feed 643 frogs. Tasked with meeting the appetites of 387 frogs, Northwest Trek's cricket order surpassed 20,000 every week.

``We want to raise big, strong frogs as quickly as possible,'' said Dave Meadows, an animal keeper at Northwest Trek.

Once the frogs are 2 inches long, they're ready to face the wild.

In late September, a group of people dedicated to helping the spotted frogs flourish gathered at Dailman Lake on JBLM and let loose 1,346 frogs into the water.

About half were inserted with a tiny transmitter tag the size of a rice grain. If a frog is nearby when biologists scan the area with wands, the scanner will show a 12-digit number with information on that specific frog.

Sure, they have to be within 18 inches or so of a frog to register them, but it's a way for Fish and Wildlife to keep tabs on the spotted frogs and assess how many are surviving and whether they're breeding.

This year's frogs are expected to help researchers gather the most conclusive data yet on how successful the head start program has been.

In 2008, Fish and Wildlife workers tried walking around the marsh and counting how many frogs they saw. Unfortunately, the results were skewed because frogs hid in the muck or the water.

Last year participants switched to radio transmitters, which were helpful but could only be attached to a small number of spotted frogs.

``We had to do a different system,'' said Marc Hayes, a senior research scientist for Fish and Wildlife.

The PIT tags which stands for Passive Inductive Transponder will be useful for the volunteers who go out weekly to conduct surveys on the frogs.

``Now we have a lot more frogs that are trackable,'' Hayes said.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow