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New stamp highlights endangered frog dwelling in Aldergrove

Oregon spotted frog has been the subject of a conservation campaign
The endangered Oregon spotted frog is now the subject of a Canada Post stamp. The frogs are found around Aldergrove and Agassiz in marshy areas. (Canada Post/Special to Black Press Media)

An endangered frog that is bred in Aldergrove for species conservation is one of two amphibians featured on new Canada Post stamps.

The Oregon spotted frog and Fowler’s toad are both featured on the new stamps, released the week of April 15.

Numbers of the Oregon spotted frog have dwindled over the years due to loss of the marshy habitats it calls home. It once ranged from southern B.C. to northern California, but in more recent years, its range in both Canada and the U.S. has shrunk.

In Canada, around 1999, there were just a few hundred of the frogs in Canada, all in the Lower Mainland.

In 2010, a captive breeding program began with Wildlife Preservation Canada working with Aldergrove’s Greater Vancouver Zoo and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Since then, the program has returned tens of thousands of tadpoles to local wetlands, at several sites around the Agassiz area.

The biologists with WPC have been consulting on the design of the frog for the new stamp.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for at least a year,” said Andrea Gielens, the lead biologist on the Oregon spotted frog conservation project.

She said the stamp looks great, and was impressed with how much the people creating it wanted to know about the frogs, and how accurate they wanted to make it.

“We were closely involved with helping Canada Post with the accuracy of it,” said Lance Woolaver, executive director of WPC. “They put a lot of effort into making sure the frog looked perfect.”

Menita Prasad, director of animal care at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, was also excited.

“We hope that this stamp will inspire appreciation for this endangered species and encourage individuals to support conservation programs to ensure that Oregon spotted frog and its ecosystems continue to play an important role in our community,” she said.

They’re hoping the stamp can bring more attention to the frog and the WPC breeding program.

A breakthrough in the breeding program in 2021 allowed for a huge increase in the number of tadpoles produced. A decade ago, the annual release was in the hundreds, but in 2021, 20,000 tadpoles were released, and in 2022, it was over 23,500.

The number of tadpoles was down in 2023, as the frogs suffered from a condition called chytrid, Woolaver said. Gielens managed to save them with intensive treatment, but it reduced their breeding activity, resulting in 6,544 tadpoles being released.

This year’s release is just days away, Gielens said.

“They’re hatching right now, so it’s a great time for the stamps to be coming out,” she said.

The frogs were once found in the wild around Aldergrove, but they faced stiff competition from bullfrogs. Bullfrogs aren’t native to the area, but they were introduced after people tried farming them for food in the early 20th century, and released them into the wild when the scheme didn’t work out.

Fowler’s toad is found on the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario, and more widely in the eastern United States.

The stamps are designed by Jocelyne Saulnier, illustrated by Emily S. Damstra, and printed by Lowe-Martin.

READ MORE: GREEN BEAT: Hope for the seldom-spotted Oregon spotted frog

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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