Just a Little Off the Top I

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Finally, a non-sports related post! This segment, as you can read, is called “Just a Little Off the Top.” No, we won’t be covering haircuts here at the heap., unless it happens to be the topic of one of the bizarre, “off-beat'” stories I find in my internet reading. Today we have a story from Nevada, having to do with… ecosystem-threatening frogs? The story comes from Yahoo! News, and was written by the AP.

119 illegal African clawed frogs seized in Nevada

RENO, Nev. – State wildlife officials raided three residences in the Reno area where they seized more than 100 African clawed frogs, which they say are prohibited because they can pose a serious danger to native frogs and entire ecosystems.

No charges have been filed against the people who illegally possessed a total of 119 frogs because they are cooperating fully with law enforcement to “get any and all prohibited frogs off the streets,” the Nevada Department of Wildlife said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased we were able to seize them before they were circulated to people in the area and possibly escaped into the wild,” said Cameron Waithman, game warden captain for NDOW’s Division of Law Enforcement.

African clawed frogs grow about as large as bullfrogs and can destroy entire ecosystems by voraciously eating native fish, amphibians and just about anything they can swallow, he said.

Scientists also believe these frogs carry and spread an African fungus that has decimated frog populations worldwide, Waithman said. The frog carries the fungus on its skin and is immune to its deadly effects.

Because of the danger the frogs pose, people who knowingly possess such amphibians face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, he said.

“If people turn these frogs in voluntarily, we don’t have an interest in writing them tickets,” said Waithman.

“However, if we find even more people involved with keeping and selling these frogs, we will prosecute at the conclusion of our investigations. These amphibians really are a threat to Nevada, and we have a duty to seize any and all that we find.”

The African clawed frog was used in hospitals in the 1940s and 1950s as a way to detect pregnancy in women. It produces eggs when injected with the urine of a pregnant woman.

Scientists say the fungus on the frogs works like a parasite that makes it difficult for the frogs to use their pores, quickly causing them to die of dehydration. It has been linked to the extinction of amphibians from Australia to Costa Rica.

Japan reported its first cases of frog deaths from the fungus in January 2007, prompting research groups to declare an emergency in the country. On the Caribbean island of Dominica, the fungus has almost wiped out the mountain chicken, a frog species considered an island delicacy.

First of all, I can’t believe there MAY be a black market for things like African Clawed Frogs. It seems like you can purchase anything these days. These amphibians are pretty nasty. Usually, when you think of frogs, you have that lovely image from various cartoons of these creatures that try to nab flies with the pinpoint accuracy of their tongues. More often than not we’d see some sort of comical conclusion- the tongue hitting something else, or perhaps even the frog itself becoming entangled in it. Noooo, these aren’t your average goofy frogs. They are hardcore carnivorous predators and serve as a carrier for epidermal disease. And according to the article, and the Wikipedia entry for the African Clawed Frog, these bad boys can disrupt entire ecosystems!

froggy

I’d have to say that my favorite line comes from the second paragraph, with the psuedo-serious line “getting any and all prohibited frogs off the streets.” Like they are some crazy fugitives on the loose. Would these frogs count as illegal immigrants? I guess we’ll just send them back to Africa. Good thing this occurred in Nevada and not Texas. Guaranteed these frogs would have a one way ticket to execution. Maybe we shouldn’t be so harsh. I mean, maybe some desperate couples were trying to save a buck or two on pregnancy tests. See? Not so impractical after all.

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