Scientist: Frog's decline threatens Sierra ecology | High Sierra Topix  

Scientist: Frog's decline threatens Sierra ecology

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Postby mikehike » Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:01 am

Where is the end game here?
How many lakes do they propose to gill net?

How many ducks will this kill?
I have been told the gill-nets only kill the trout, I don't beleive it.

Do you think non-native trout add value?
Has anyone studied this?

Maybe more food for bears, bobcats and mtn lions at high-altitudes?

I hope this is not an all or nothing mentality, fisherman appreciate wildlife as much as anyone. I safely release 90% of the fish I catch, the ones I keep I eat, thats usually one fish. But I guess to the frog people would rather have me bash it to mush on a rock. I like frogs and I don't have a problem with preserving native species, its wonderful. Can we have both? I'd say thats easily accomplished, with the sheer number of lakes in the Sierra, not a problem.

Is there a list of lakes they plan to eradicate the trout from?

I am sure its in the earlier posts I am sorry, I didn't have time to review the entire post.



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Ribbeting

Postby gdurkee » Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:25 pm

For the whole Sierra, I don't really know how many total lakes might be netted to restore frog habitat. If I had to guess, I'd say no more than something in the low 100s (i.e. 120 +/-) over the next 30 years. I want to emphasize that's a major guess and applies to the Sierra between Tahoe and just south of Whitney. Elsewhere I said that you need some sort of barrier to prevent the fish from returning (small waterfall, at least). You also need more than just one suitable lake. Ideally you need a basin with a number of small lake cirques so there's diverse population and habitat.

In a post on the fish forum, Caddis asked why, if there's one healthy frog population, other nearby lakes have to be restored ("fish killed off") as well. The fact that frogs had become so isolated is why their population has likely crashed. Previously if, say, chytrid had hit a population and wiped them out, the population would recover once the disease died away and other frogs repopulated from as far as a few miles away -- but in the same basin connected by streams. When fish are in the intervening streams and lakes, that doesn't happen. Or, worse, if there was only one lake with frogs remaining, that was it for the whole basin. So the idea is to try to restore a number of lakes. This may be proving correct as a model. Chytrid recently got into 60 Lakes Basin where a number of lakes have been restored. It almost totally wiped out one chain of lakes. The hope is that nearby frogs get back to that lake.


The first round of habitat restoration of lakes was done (in Sequoia Kings) as a proof of concept experiment. I think it consists of only 8 lakes or so -- total. I don't know what other agencies are doing, but NPS in Sequoia Kings is writing an Environmental Assessment for the next round of habitat restoration. A public notice was given that the process had started and some comments have come in.

The next stage is when the EA is released for public comment on the specifics of the plan. I do know that the biologists involved are being careful to, wherever possible, avoid lakes that are known to be popular fishing holes. To get on the mailing/notification list, write the Sequoia Kings Superintendent and tell them you want to be notified when the plan is released. Then you can read it and comment.

Check with Yosemite and California Dept. of Fish and Game to see how they're proceeding with future restoration.

Next: regarding ducks or other birds maybe getting caught in gill nets. I wrote Vance Vredenburg, who's been doing gill netting in 60 lakes basin for the last 10+ years. Vance is now Assistant Professor of Biology at San Francisco State. His reply:

I've never had a bird get caught in my gill nets, but that isn't to say it would never happen. If the nets are set correctly they should be 100% underwater so a duck should be fine. More aquatic birds like Dippers may be more in danger as they spend much more time zooming around underwater. I've seen a lot of those guys but luckily never in my nets.


Next, Next: I've never seen a bear try to catch fish. Also never heard of bobcat or other predator do so. I have seen Coyote attempt to fish, but suspect it's not a huge part of their diet. Bear do, though, catch frogs.

So I guess the short answer is you can definitely have both fish and frogs -- and that's definitely the intent of management to do so. In spite of what some people here imply, I don't see that changing (I base that on almost 40 years with the park service). As important, it would be so difficult as to be impossible to eliminate fish from any significant percentage of high sierra lakes.

Hope that helps. Ribbet! (also, incidentally, yellow-legged frogs don't go ribbet. They have a high pitched squeak. Very weird).

g.
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Postby mikehike » Sat Oct 27, 2007 6:35 pm

Gdurkee,

Thanks for the reply, you addressed all of my questions. I understand how a lake basin would be ideal situation for frog restoration as opposed to single lake.

I would like to be kept informed on this topic as much as possible and if they allow a fishermans input that would be great.

What is the best website for this topic?
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Postby mountaineer » Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:21 pm

Russ, sorry about your trip. I like the giggin' idea.

At some point in time, we are going to have to realize that some things are better they way they are now instead of trying to go back to how things were.
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Postby mikehike » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:55 pm

Mountaineer,

Its easy to roll over let this happen with out some voice from the fisherman, I have read both threads in this part of the forum and the fishing hole thread. The fishing hole thread was so heated Eric closed it, it was reduced to mud slinging. I find many discrepancies from some of the pro-frog elite's.

1. lakes with trophy fish are not chosen
2. Gill nets safely catch fish Only.

Well we already no item 1 is false and I have my doubts on Gill netting.

My feeling is America is about checks and balances, without checks we have no balance. I am sorry but I do not trust the frog contingent, If they can find enough grant funding I would not be surpriized if they go after every trout lake possible.

Why would they do this?

Well I would probably discontinue back packing along with many other fisherman, less people in the Sierra's, frog people happy.

Maybe I am being a bit paranoid, because this would be labor intensive and exspensive undertaking, but this is california and if it could happen anywhere its here.

Gill Netting:

Try to find positive data on gill netting, it just doesn't exist. For some reason Gill netting in the Sierras only catches trout. I don't beleive it.
I can see dead ducks getting tangled in Gill nets set for 2-3 weeks at a time. What sorts of Bacteria are formed from rotting fish, where are the rotting fish disposed of. Bald Eagles? could they spot a dead fish underwater? Bald Eagles are more scavengers then hunters, I'd hope gill nets would not be set in area with a nesting Bald Eagle.

I would like to have a voice in this, I would hope some of us passionate fisherman could band together and form a watch-dog group. I don't have problem with preserving endangered species, but with 2,000 lakes in the Sierra's we should be able to have a balance between fish and frogs.
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Quack

Postby gdurkee » Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:41 pm

Just heard from another froggie researcher friend. He stays in contact with pretty much all the gill net projects in the Sierra. He wrote:

As for gill net by-catch, it happens very rarely. If nets are set carefully, most of this can be avoided. However, I know of dippers, ducks, grebes, and shrews being captured in gill nets deployed in Sierra Nevada lakes.


So, it does happen, but not that often. The fact that Vance hasn't seen any in 10 years of nets in 60 Lakes Basin would seem to me to say it's extremely rare.

Next, it's come up elsewhere that because Vance misstated how ducks swim underwater that both he and researchers in general are suspect. I will say that Vance has spent more time in the backcountry than anyone on this forum and certainly has more experience with gill netting. It was his research that proved eliminating fish would restore frogs to lakes. He certainly knows that ducks go underwater, though don't swim the distances that, say, dippers do.

Mikehike: I appreciate that you seem sincerely interested in the issues involved and looking for information. I'm a little unclear on what you meant by "pro-frog elite." I'm not sure what's elite about it. The enabling legislation of the National Park Service, the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Act & etc. is pretty clear. We have both a moral and legal obligation to preserve species and ecosystems. Fish are not native to much of the High Sierra and they are causing a major disruption to that ecosystem. Once again, though, it's not an either/or thing. It's most definitely "both."

You may have misread the description of how lakes are chosen. I didn't say (nor did anyone else here) that "lakes with trophy fish are not chosen." I said that, wherever possible, they're avoided. It won't always be possible though.

There's also a fair number of fish/trout organizations out there. My guess is that the ones in California will be on the notification lists for EAs or EIS being done where gill netting will happen. That would be one way to stay informed and active. The whole idea of an EA is to get public comment when a major project is to be carried out.

George
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Fish decimaters

Postby AldeFarte » Fri Nov 02, 2007 7:30 pm

George. I can appreciate the sentiment of people wanting to save the frog. But I guess you can officially put me in the "left wing black helicopter" crowd. I don't trust the motives of guberment. And by the same token ,the people who do research for the guberment. Even tho the researchers may be wholly and totally doing their research in good faith. Big wigs in guberment tend to draw a conclusion and then figure the best way to reach that conclusion. So to speak. Caddis has alluded to the theory that perhaps it would be better to have isolated populations of endangered critters. Less chance of a catastrophic failure in the "whole" system. I agree with that and it has already proven to be a sound policy. Numerous pockets of isolated pure strain critters have been saved by being isolated and thereby"safe". With NO help from the almighty guberment. The same people who would save the frog by wiping out the fish would think it anathema to kill the wolf or bear to save the deer ,or moose calves. Even tho no sane person wants to "wipe out" any of the species involved. Just my rant for the day. jls
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Postby mikehike » Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:51 pm

Gdurkee,

Thanks for the response, I am still quite skeptical regarding the science and the gill netting. I spent another weekend at one of my favorite fishing lakes in Sierra I spent a good 4 hours fishing and observing this beautiful ecosystem.

I watched a groups of mallards circumvent the whole lake several times, diving routinely. I also watched a group of Coots do the same. If this lake had Gill nets it would have snagged several of these birds. Maybe Kings canyon does not have mallards or coots, this problem may be a greater issue around tahoe.
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Re: Scientist: Frog's decline threatens Sierra ecology

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:35 pm

Just released up to date information suggesting a yellow-legged frog decline beyond the Sierra in our state and general amphibian decline world wide. Says Sierra decline of YLF is likely to be due to a number of factors. Although trout in lakes has a negative effect on populations, it is just one factor.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci ... source=rss
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Back to the Future

Postby Strider » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:32 am

San Francisco Chronicle August 13, 2014

Vice President Jeb Bush announced that the Romney administration has endorsed the study undertaken by the Bechtel Yosemite Oversight Bureau, and agrees that the lack of water in the Merced river is not a result of global warming. BYOB will increase China's visitor quota by 75,000 next year, and continue to operate the Walmart and McDonald's franchises.
'Hike long and perspire'
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Re: Scientist: Frog's decline threatens Sierra ecology

Postby caddis » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:12 am

SSSdave wrote:Just released up to date information suggesting a yellow-legged frog decline beyond the Sierra in our state and general amphibian decline world wide. Says Sierra decline of YLF is likely to be due to a number of factors. Although trout in lakes has a negative effect on populations, it is just one factor.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci ... source=rss
It's an old thread but I thought we brought that up earlier. I think most people will conceed fish decrease MYLF local populations, but MYLF frogs thrived for scores of years in the sierras since trout were introduced in the backcountry. Killing off the fish shouldn't be a solution to restablish the MYLF. At the bare minimum, don't kill off lakes that can sustain fish without planting or kill off lakes with trophey sized fish. I believe they have a sufficient amount of habitat in fishless lakes and small pockets of water. Just MHO
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Re: Back to the Future

Postby caddis » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:13 am

Strider wrote: continue to operate the Walmart and McDonald's franchises.


There's a Wal Mart in Yosemite???
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