What is being done to preserve the MS Gopher Frog?
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The Memphis Zoo has announced the first captive breeding program for the species. This is going to be a very encouraging year of perhaps hundreds of small and large steps to avert the mass extinction. Using in-vitro fertilization techniques learned while breeding Wyoming toads in 2004, the zoo has produced 93 Mississippi gopher tadpoles, a number nearly matching the 100 frogs still living in the wild.
The Nature Conservancy has acquired by donation on of the last active breeding sites of the Mississippi Gopher Frog. Josh Cook of the Gulf Coast Research Lab discovered another, unknown breeding pond during the 2008 winter breeding season. Restoration of at least two breeding ponds, long inactive due to habitat disturbance, is being undertaken by The Nature Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
There has been some success in treating tadpoles for the fatal disease that reduces survival of hatching egg masses. Female Mississippi Gopher Frogs take almost three years to mature.
Recommended conservation measures (near known gopher frog habitat)
1. Survey all treated areas and landings to identify and protect habitat structures (burrows and stump holes) and to mark all vegetative material to be removed prior to salvage large (hurricane-downed) trees by use of helicopters, mule teams, specialized low- impact vehicles.
2. Remove all gopher frogs found: conduct dormant season prescribed fire as frequently as possible, preferably no greater than at interval of 2 to 3 years, in smaller individual treatment blocks.
3. Fire lanes should use existing roads and wetland drains as much as possible, minimizing the use of motorized vehicles to those essential for safety during the prescribed burning.
4. Otherwise, survey, mark, and protect gopher tortoise burrows, stumps, and holes with a 7.6-m (25-ft) buffer before plowing fire lanes.
5. Use prescribed dormant season fire over a 5 to 10–year period to reduce fuels to a level where you could implement frequent growing season fire.
6. herbicides to reduce hardwood encroachment.