Bullfrogs and the Law
Around the world, governments of many nations are trying to grapple with the ecologically and economically destructive effects of exotic species of plants and animals. Frogs, for the most part, figure little in so-called ‘invasive species’ issues. However, two species in particular have created notoriously widespread problems - the cane toad and the American bullfrog.
In the spring of 1995, the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission (SSC), World Conservation Union (IUCN), sent out a questionnaire world-wide to collate information on bullfrog introductions and thereby establish the true magnitude of the problem. Michael J. Lannoo (1995), Ball State University, produced a summary of the survey results revealing that bullfrog populations are now very widely distributed around the globe, including locations in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Governments, at all levels, have acknowledged that invasive American bullfrog populations are ecologically destructive and that eradication is highly desirable.
In 1992, Canada joined most of the governments of the world in signing the Convention on Biological Diversity. The convention states in Article 8, Item (h) - In-situ Conservation - “Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: Prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.”
The program to eradicate bullfrog populations from southern Vancouver Island is, therefore, in keeping with the Canada’s domestic policies and international obligations with respect to the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992).
Canada’s federal ‘Species At Risk Act‘ (SARA) came into being in 2004. Its jurisdiction is primarily restricted to federal properties, such as national parks, refuges and Department of National Defence lands. However, the spirit of the Act is to protect endangered species and habitats - and invasive American bullfrog populations are clearly a key threatening and destructive process within indigenous ecosystems in British Columbia.
Management of British Columbia’s wildlife resources and wildlife-related problems is primarily a provincial responsibility. Provincial law in British Columbia prohibits the release or transport of non-native species such as American bullfrogs, except by permit. The Wildlife Act (1996) states in Article 77, that those in breach of this law should be liable for the costs of eradication. However, there has been little or no enforcement of the Act as it applies to alien amphibian introductions.
The aims of the bullfrog eradication program are in keeping with provincial law, and will take action to apply the spirit of the province’s Wildlife Act.
Letters to The Honourable Barry Penner, Minister of Environment, have been sent from the Committee Chairs of CRD Parks and CRD Water requesting co-operative funding from the province to support the bullfrog eradication program.
On southern Vancouver Island at the regional and municipal levels there are no specific laws that address the problem of populations of invasive American bullfrogs. Invasive species issues are primarily the legal domain of provincial and federal governments. Ironically - but thankfully - all of the funding that has been raised thus far to advance the bullfrog eradication program on southern Vancouver Island has come from the Capital Regional District, most of the Municipalities, and private donations from concerned citizens.
A few vigilant, ad hoc, community-based, on-going extermination efforts are being carried out by volunteers in Saanich, Langford and the Highlands District - but so far with limited success.
Stan A. Orchard
69A Burnside Road West
Victoria , British Columbia V9A 1B6
Phone: 250-858-FROG (3764)