The World’s Most Exotic Animals Are Back in the San Gabriel Mountains

Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains

As summer draws to a close this month, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument has been rocked by the news that an estimated 400 to 500 of the world’s rare yellow-legged frogs had been returned to the area by conservationists as part of a reintroduction effort. Though officials were forced to scale back the program last year, the plan to bring about 300 frogs back and help restore the area’s ecosystem is still in effect.

In a sign of the difficult battle some have been fighting to restore the health of the area, only about a third of the frogs have been returned, according to the Nature Conservancy, and only one was known to be male. Still, the efforts to bring back the remaining animals have been largely successful.

“The frogs have had such a difficult time in their lives,” says John Verner, a biologist for The Nature Conservancy in California. “Now they have a chance to make a normal life out of it and reproduce.”

The frogs that were returned were part of a program launched in the mid-1980s by the Nature Conservancy, which has been trying to bring the yellow-legged frog back to the San Gabriel Mountains since 1989, when it was first spotted in the area. When the frogs were first found there, the idea to bring them back was controversial.

“I was very surprised when our board of directors said we would bring them back,” says Verner, a professor of biology at Southern Polytechnic State University and a co-founder of the Nature Conservancy. “I would have said ‘no, you have to go back to the drawing board. Now you are being foolish to do this.'”

He was speaking to The Times in an interview at his home in Pasadena. But he believes the efforts to bring back the frogs are being successful, and that the world’s most exotic species will find their way to the San Gabriel Mountains once more.

The yellow-legged frog’s natural habitat has been cut

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