Erica Crespi.

With the help of scientists from Washington State University, hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs have taken a leap back into the wild in recent weeks at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Grant County.

The releases were made possible by a partnership of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Oregon Zoo, and WSU.

Bernardo Traversari.

WDFW collected northern leopard frog eggs earlier this spring, and after months of growing in conservation labs at WSU and the Oregon Zoo, the frogs were ready for release in recent weeks.

“It was really exciting to see these frogs go out into their world,” said Erica Crespi, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences. “It was like watching my children go off on their first day of school. It was especially great to see them start to eat their first insect meals as they hopped away. We are all hoping that they will continue to thrive in their original home.”

Caren Goldberg.

Crespi and her graduate student Bernardo Traversari, along with WSU collaborators Caren Goldberg, assistant professor in the School of the Environment, and Allan Pessier, clinical associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, played an important role in the project by rearing frog tadpoles at the Airport Gardens research facility in Pullman. The WSU team’s efforts also included disease surveillance, genetic assessment, population modeling, and experiments to determine optimal rearing conditions to maximize the probability of a successful reintroduction.

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