June 14, 2011

Death of a Bull Frog

We have an artificial pond in the front of our house. Honestly, it wasn't a selling point when we were looking at the place. It was over grown with weeds. The previous owners had decorated the edges with all manner of garden-gnome-like statues and benches and scattering of kids' toys that were left out from the day before. It was an omen to how the rest of the house would look - I have never seen so many knick knacks and just plain crap in one place! And yet, that didn't deter us from purchasing. And the pond cleaned up really nice.

The first spring, which was about 10 months after we moved in, we were watching TV and a couple frogs started to croak in the pond. I paused the TV and thought "how cute, that a couple frogs had taken up residence in our now-de-cluttered pond." Each night a few more frogs joined in and by the fifth day we had to turn the TV up to hear it over the chorus. Funny that these little tiny frogs are actually called "Pacific Chorus Frogs." The sound was enough to keep me from falling asleep. I loved it! Our little man-made, lined, dinky pond was giving home to courting frogs.

The next year and year after, when we heard the telltale two frogs we knew mating season was back on. (If you know it, hum with me now "Froggy went a-courtin' and he did go, a-huh ...") Our favorite trick was to open the front door in the evening, which was like turning a switch off - the sound stopped immediately. Then one brave frog would start again and the rest would follow. We'd grin and shut the door, which got the same affect. I imagined that the brave frog got the most girls.

Last year, into June, Jeremy turned to me and said "I don't remember hearing the frogs." I thought about it and he was right. What the heck happened?! Was our pond poisoned?! Worse! Turned out that a bull frog had taken up residence.

Bull frogs are non-native, invasive amphibians that eat Pacific Chorus Frogs - not just the tadpoles, but the actual adult frogs - and other small pond-dwellers like innocent goldfish. The chorus frogs must have sent word out to avoid the Brooks' Pond now that a bull frog has moved into the neighborhood. Not one chorus frog came back. We only caught a glimpse of the bull frog that spring - a fleeting hop as he jumped from edge into the water.

This spring, one night I heard a chorus frog. Maybe the bull frog had moved on, decided to take over a new pond. But the chorus frog only stuck around for a couple of nights. He was either eaten or chased off. It was time to take action.

I enlisted Jeremy by giving him permission to hunt the nasty bull frog. Jeremy set the BB gun by the front door and started "tracking" the beasts movements. Jeremy discovered that the bull frog liked to hide in the tall grass on the edge of the pond where he could easily jump into the water when detected. Twice Jeremy stealthily shot at and thought he hit the bull frog, but it disappeared into the murk before we could confirm.

Last night I came home late from work. Jeremy and Jordan had gone to bed. Jeremy had left a pile of mail and newspapers on the counter and placed his camera on top. I figured I had better look at the pictures. The most recent were of the bull frog sitting on a shovel. I had to know the story, so I went into the bedroom to make Jeremy recap what transpired.

Jeremy and Jordan had come home from the local pizza joint and the bull frog was in his normal place, lording over the pond. Jeremy quietly opened the front door and retrieved the BB gun. He lowered the barrel on the beast and squeezed off a shot. The bull frog made to jump then slumped over. Jeremy took a second shot to seal the deal and end it's suffering. Then Jeremy and Jordan buried the frog in the back-40. Jordan picked a bouquet of dandelions to place at the grave.

It's too late for the chorus frogs to return this year. I can only hope that the neighborhood wasn't so spoiled by the bull frog that they continue to avoid buying up real easte. I look forward saying "Jeremy, turn up the TV, I can't hear over the frogs."

1 comment:

Robin said...

I had no idea that Bull frogs were invasive. Nor did I have any idea that Pacific Chorus frogs could get eaten by them. Not that I knew we had such a thing as Pacific Chorus frogs. Always something new to learn I guess. :)