Learn how to help the chorus frog

By Darren Lum

Taking a journey to learn about the chorus frog with experienced local field naturalist Ed Poropat will not only help educate and raise awareness about the amphibian, which is disappearing from the landscape, but also enlist potential allies in its bid for survival.
Organized by the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust and partially funded by the Environment Canada and Climate Change, Habitat Stewardship Program, the by-donation event is from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at the Haliburton Fish Hatchery, located on 6712 Gelert Road.
Poropat will give a powerpoint presentation, which will include how to identify the frog and provide information on its lifecycle, and a guided walk to listen for and potentially see the amphibian in the outdoors.
Poropat said he wants those that come to the event to leave with greater awareness of the frog, which is “very quickly disappearing.”
The benefit of raising awareness is the opportunity to enlist more allies for the vulnerable species, he adds.
“Inevitably, what will happen is it’ll help us at least get a really good sense of populations and distribution and stuff like that. And then that, ultimately, is helpful to the frog,” he said, referring to how more people can look out for the frog.

Poropat said he has had at least a couple of decades of experience with species at risk, but has had an interest in amphibians for all of his life.
Frogs are key to our biodiversity. Losing any is detrimental, he said.
“Every species that we lose affects the entire ecosystem. You know, it’s that the whole idea of pulling on a thread and the whole thing unravels slowly if you’re not careful, so we need to do our best to provide homes and habitats for every single species that’s out there,” he said.
Among the factors contributing to the decline in population for species is how its habitat is disappearing, he said. This frog has never been common in the county, but has been discovered closer to southern portion of the Highlands such as in Minden Hills. He would be surprised if any would be in the northern areas of the county.
“It’s a species that just has never been common on the Canadian Shield – not in Haliburton County. And, so, there’s pockets here and there, but, sadly, I’ve been doing some frog surveys over the last, probably, 15 years and in the last … five years, I’ve noticed places where I’ve heard them before and they’re now gone,” he said.

The importance of this frog is how it affects others.
“Frogs provide control for insects, because they’re voracious insect feeders, as well as other things, and then also they provide food for other things. When they’re younger, whether they be tadpoles, or eggs, or even as adults, providing food for birds, herons. That kind of thing,” he said.
The consequence of losing one species is difficult to understand until it happens.
“We don’t even understand how a lot of these things are related,” he said.
He noted when the dodo bird went extinct it led to the extinction of a tree.
“Who would have guess that, right? But the dodos would eat the seeds from this tree and their bills were heavy enough that they could crack them and so the tree was able to germinate through the bird defecating,” he said.
He encourages people to come to the event with flashlights, so they can be available if needed during the outdoor walk portion.
As requirement for the event, please pre-register and for more information www.haliburtonlandtrust.ca.