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Early-spawning frogs disturbed by youngsters.

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Reporter @Hendrover

IT'S the time of year when hundreds of frogs gather at a city pond to spawn.

This year the warm spell saw the frogs congregate about a week earlier than usual at the pond in the St Nicholas nature reserve in Newcastle, adjacent to the headquarters of Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

But the early arrivals had their breeding disrupted by youngsters who made a "game" of collecting the creatures and throwing them - and their frogspawn - at each other.

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust chief executive, said: "This is a vital time of year for frogs, so I am angry as such behaviour not only disturbs their breeding pattern but causes distress and injury which leaves them vulnerable to predators such as birds and foxes.

"I appeal to people to be vigilant and report any such behaviour to the trust on 0191 2846 884.

"Frogs are great to watch, but people need to remember they are wild creatures and should be left in their native environment as moving them causes distress.

"Likewise, when it comes to excessive frog spawn in ponds, our message is clear - leave it where it is and let nature sort it out."

At the last count, around 75% of frogs now live in urban ponds in back gardens and local parks due to countryside and agricultural intensification such as the drying of wetlands, pond removal and reduction of grasslands which affects hibernation and removes vital cover for their survival.

Mike said: "People may think they are doing a good turn moving frogspawn from their own pond into other ponds, but this can lead to severe contamination and pose a threat to the frogs, toads and newts living in the area."

Frogs in particular are at risk from two deadly diseases.

Chytrid fungus clogs their pores and, as they breathe through their skin, causes them to suffocate.

This fungus has already been responsible for amphibian extinction in various parts of the world.

The second disease, which is commonly referred to as "red leg" causes the skin to drop off frogs' legs subjecting them to a slow and painful death.

This condition is incurable and is on the increase in various parts of the UK.

Frogs are great to watch, but people need to remember they are wild creatures. Mike Pratt

CAPTION(S):

Frogspawn should never be moved from one pond to another, says Mike Pratt

Thousands of frogs have spawned early this year due to the warm weather Simon Greener

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2019
Words:416
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