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Invasive species in the Lily Pond in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

By Gary Bogue
Friday, July 14th, 2006 at 1:02 pm in African clawed frog, Invasive species.

Ever heard of African Clawed Frogs? Those durable little amphibians are an "invasive species" (introduced by humans and competes with native wildlife) and illegal in California, but that certainly hasn’t stopped them from trying to move in.

A LARGE population of these voracious non-native frogs is presently infesting the Lily Pond in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Word is this invasive frog population has been growing there for the last three or so years. How’d they get there? Maybe someone released their illegal pets in the pond.

However they got there, the Lily Pond is now bursting at the seams with African Clawed Frogs and tadpoles and these ravenous amphibians are waiting to be spread to other ponds and lakes around the Bay Area (assuming this hasn’t already happened!) What makes them so dangerous is that they are resistant to most local diseases and they eat everything that moves. They also reproduce like crazy. Most important, they have the potential to severely impact and displace our fragile native aquatic wildlife.

The City of San Francisco and the California Department of Fish and Game have known about this problem for at least three years, and yet the frogs are still there.

So what’s the holdup?

Epilog: Eric Mills, founder and coordinator for Action For Animals in Oakland, and coordinator of the Lily Pond Coalition, just forwarded me a copy of an e-mail update he sent out on the "African Clawed Frog Problem at the Lily Pond." (See below)

If anyone feels inspired after reading Eric’s alert, feel free to drop a note with your thoughts to:

** San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom:

** The San Francisco Board of Supervisors: City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

** Ryan Broddrick, director, Dept. of Fish & Game: (his secretary).

NOTE: Eric would also appreciate it if anyone who writes to the above people could forward him copies of your missives (Eric Mills, Action for Animals, P.O. Box 20184, Oakland, CA 94620; Thanks.

From Eric Mills:
July 12, 2006


The players:
** Miles Young — consultant, Lily Pond Coalition. former DFG warden
** Paul Haskins — herpetologist/naturalist, Lily Pond Coalition
** Phil Rossi — IPM specialist, S.F. Rec & Parks
** Ralph and Steve — S.F. Rec & Parks employees
** Kam — gardener, S.F. Rec & Parks
** Eric Larson — Dept. of Fish & Game (Region 3, Yountville), in charge of the entire operation

A bad situation seems to be getting worse.

Here’s hoping that the powers-that-be can help to get this problem fixed, and soon, before these non-native frogs disperse. It’s been more than three years since DFG, the City of San Francisco, and other agencies learned of this situation. The obvious solution still seems to be to drain the pond, then humanely destroy all frogs, tadpoles and eggs therein.


Eric Mills, coordinator, LILY POND COALITION

E-mail from Miles Young — consultant, Lily Pond Coalition, former DFG warden:

Subject: Lily Pond 7/11/06


I drove to SF this morning to have a look at Lily Pond and the trapping efforts. The water is the lowest I’ve ever seen it and also very dirty. There is trash all along the shoreline plus the brush and other debris left by the workers after their daily sessions. Ralph and Steve were working hand nets and they had 9 traps working under inner tubes. Phil came down for a look see and was pleasant but I agree with Paul it appears he feels this one half-day a week trapping is useless. The water is so low the upper end is dry and there is beach all around the pond. The water was just above the knees of the workers. Phil and I discussed the fact the pond was now very accessible to the public and the workers were easily scooping up tadpoles in the nets. Not only that with all the signs of foot traffic and activity along the newly created beach it becomes a legal "attractive nuisance." Phil only stayed a few minutes and as soon as he was gone Paul Haskins arrived on the scene. Ralph and Steve said it was a big waste of time and we just need to drain it now while its down.

Kam the gardener came by and told me he’s starting to get complaints about the condition of the pond, i.e. looks like a mud hole and trash dump. He feels the City better make a decision quick about going all the way or filling it back up. I walked around to the west end and was asked by a couple what the men in the water were doing. When I told them they said they saw some young people wading in the pond the other day but they didn’t have more specifics. When Paul and I were standing there the duck ladies came by and said the pond needed to be drained to get rid of the frogs and then refilled so her ducks wouldn’t leave. While we were there a group of about thirty tourists from the peninsula came by, watched the activity, saw the frogs, asked questions and moved on. So much for low profile. If there is a "collector" anywhere in Northern California that doesn’t know about the ACFs in Lily Pond I’ll be surprised.

Eric Larson showed up and I pointed out to him the "attractive nuisance" problem and the fact the exposed beach and trash piling up is generating complaints. I also told him nothing is being done to kill the eggs and with the removal of adults, the cannibal predators, and only part of the tadpoles we should have a new crop of young ones shortly — kind of like growing a lawn, water, fertilize and cut it every week! Larson left shortly thereafter not saying much, he was in the area less then 20 minutes.

I took two rolls of pictures and Paul kept frog capture statistics. (Miles)

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3 Responses to “Invasive species in the Lily Pond in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park”

  1. michael boughton Says:

    Hi Gary;
    I’ve a large pond in my s.f. backyard(11′ across by 4 feet deep) and would like to introduce native tadpoles, particularly tree frog…but feel a bit sqeezey about collecting in the wild. It’s a good habitat, certainly the bullfrogs loved it for years until I tired of their eating habits..consistently munching up the koi fry, protected from the herons and egrets by a net, and with a huge avocado nearby.
    Can you steer me to a source?
    Thanks, Michael

  2. lily pond invasive species african clawed frogs Says:

    […] crummy thing is that the frogs have been there for almost a decade, and nothing has been done so far. Actually, according to an SFGate article from 2004, the state […]

  3. najai wormley Says:

    i love the work keep it up

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