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Biologists Put A New Twist On The Easter Egg Hunt

Rick Fridell
Biologists are out hunting for Columbia Spotted Frog eggs

Children all over Utah love spring and hunting for Easter eggs. Chris Crockett, the native aquatics project leader for the Division of Wildlife Resources is hoping to start a new spring tradition - hunting for Columbia spotted frog eggs.

That’s right. Crockett and the Division of Wildlife Resources, with the help Hogle Zoo, have even created an app called “Amphibians of Utah” for people to download so they can be citizen-scientists and help identify various species.

“We’re actually trying to get the public to come out and hunt with us," Crockett said. "And essentially have their Easter egg hunt looking for spotted frogs. First of all, we want people to know about these organisms and know the value.”

These frogs are listed on the Utah Sensitive Species List and Crockett says they are more important than people might think.

"A lot of people don’t realize frogs have a lot value to us in terms of biomedical value. For instance, there’s the northern leopard frogs that we have here in Utah. They're using  enzymes found in the skin of northern leopard frogs to treat everything from warts to brain tumors," Crockett said.

He says because of Utah’s drought issues, The Columbia spotted frog is going through a metamorphosis.

"Columbia spotted frogs are fairly widespread throughout the northwestern [part] of the United States but we’re right on the southern edge of that population, and therefore we actually have some unique genetics," Crockett said. "When Lake Bonneville started to recede it isolated some of these populations and so they’re starting to develop some of their own unique characteristics some might even say they’re kind of going toward speciation."

He says the Columbia spotted frog is fascinating, as it can breed as early as February under winter’s icy blanket.