Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Chiricahua Leopard Frog Benefits from Partnership between Leslie Canyon NWR, the American Museum Natural History’s Southwestern Research Station, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the U.S. Forest Service
Southwest Region, October 5, 2011
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Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Chiricahua Leopard Frog - Photo Credit: William R. Radke

Leslie Canyon NWR is one of the last sites in southeastern Arizona where Chiricahua leopard frogs occur naturally in the wild. However, due to extreme drought conditions leaving Leslie Canyon NWR without flowing water in the creek, the frog is disappearing with the water. During the summer of 2010 a decision was made to collect as many leopard frog tadpoles as possible from Leslie Creek and transport them to the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona, where facilities where available to raise tadpoles in a controlled environment. The goal of this leopard frog captive breeding program was to raise these Leslie Canyon NWR tadpoles to breeding age, facilitate subsequent production of multiple egg masses, and then release lots of progeny back into suitable habitats throughout the Chiricahua Mountains to help meet local recovery objectives.


Of the original 29 tadpoles transferred from Leslie Canyon NWR, 13 survived to adulthood and were moved into outdoor enclosure habitats at the Research Station procured through the Partner’s for Fish and Wildlife Program. Frog egg masses were produced in these facilities during 2011, hatching into hundreds of tadpoles which were carefully reared by Dawn Wilson and Geoff Bender at the Research Station. Meanwhile, FWS Ecological Services staff and Arizona Game and Fish Department employees pursued a safe harbor agreement with the Research Station and adjacent land owners in Cave Creek Canyon so that reared frogs could be released into the Research Stations wetlands. The USFS Douglas Ranger District supported this release, with frogs expected to eventually move onto USFS lands as the population recovers. On October 5, San Bernardino NWR staff assisted Research Station personnel in the release of 38 adult frogs, 52 sub-adult frogs, and 284 tadpoles into a recently rehabilitated pond on the Research Station’s property. For the first time in many years, Chiricahua leopard frogs are living “in the wild” in the Chiricahua Mountains.

Contact Info: Christopher Lohrengel, 520-364-2104 x.106, chris_lohrengel@fws.gov
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