Since I’ve been struggling so hard to meet my self-imposed deadlines for my book, and to help my significant other with his new self-employment venture… all the time I used to spend blogging has evaporated. Literally. Poof. It’s flat-out disappeared. So I’m cheating a smidge with this post. This is a re-print of an article I wrote almost exactly a year ago, and which ran in the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News & Observer. (April 4, 2010). It was one of my favorite to report, because I got to tromp around in the woods. On a military base. Near the artillery zones. And they were blowing up some big-sounding stuff that day. This story is about an imperiled frog, the Carolina gopher frog, to be exact. The biologists I was following were sampling ponds encircled by drift fences (fabric laced around stakes). Some of the ordinances that exploded near to where we were working, in the “buffer zones,” were so loud that their sound waves rippled the drift fences. They also made my torso feel like it was transmogrified into a kick drum. Enjoy your read about these amazing and unsung critters.
Rare frog finds a military home
Amid a daily percussion of artillery fire and munitions explosions, a rare amphibian migration began at Fort Bragg in early March.
Carolina gopher frogs emerged from their underground burrows and hopped a mile or so to seasonal ponds. Their instinct to breed was sparked by several days of rainfall and warm nights.
About 100 to 150 Carolina gopher frogs live in Fort Bragg’s artillery impact zones, where soldiers train. North Carolina lists the frogs as “threatened.”
N.C. State University biologist Nick Haddad studies the frogs, which live in intact sandhill and longleaf pine ecosystems that require periodic burning. With the widespread loss of this habitat – only 5 percent remains, compared with its historic range – the frogs have developed a curious dependency upon military lands such as Fort Bragg. Continue reading