State Amphibian Debate (all hopped up)

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Apr 24, 2007 08:08 PM
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As an avid frog-lover myself, I was excited to hear that the state was considering adopting a North Carolina amphibian to join the ranks of the a-famed state drink, state tartan, and state rock. Who would've thought though that the bill introduced into the House to pass the state amphibian as the Bull Frog would cause so much controversy?

waterdogTurns out that a group of 4th graders from Plymouth were advocating for the Bull Frog--a popular species that we've all stumbled upon occasionally (hopefully not literally). Opposition to the bill was presented by folks at the NC Herpetological Society who sent a letter to a representative in the House asking them to reconsider the choice of Bull Frog and instead consider "a species that is truly original and unique to North Carolina." Among their suggestions were the Neuse River Waterdog, Yonahlossee Salamander, Eastern Hellbender, Marbled Salamander, and Carolina Gopher Frog.

NC Herps also suggested some changes to the bill's language including adding the statement "Whereas, amphibians play important roles in the natural systems of the state and serve as indicators of environmental health." [I was glad to see them advocate to get this phrase added--it's amazing how much work has been done studying amphibians for environmental impacts of toxics, pesticides, and much more (as noted by the work of the esteemed Dr. Tyrone Hayes.)]

Anyway, the bill passed the House this last Friday (I guess it's hard to say no to a group of politically involved nine- and ten-year olds) and is moving onto the Senate for their vote. While it will be interesting to see what the final decision is, the important part is that these very environmentally-sensitive creatures are getting some press and some recognition. If in the end folks still can't decide, might I suggest Kermit or the daring Frogger (not native to North Carolina, yet worthy of praise after crossing many a busy street and alligator-infested river.)

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