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Our Appetite for Frog Legs May Be Wiping Out Frogs

Deadly chytrid fungus killing native amphibian species
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2011 6:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – Things you may not know: America, like Europe, has a pretty massive appetite for frog legs ... and that hunger may very well be causing frog extinctions around the globe. Scientific American reports on a new study released this week that weighs the demand: 2,280 metric tons of frog legs, which come from somewhere between 450 million and 1.1 billion frogs, are imported to the US each year; the EU's appetite is about double ours. Another 2,216 metric tons of live frogs enters our borders as well. All for a menu entry that's harming frog populations in two ways, according to the report.

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First, we're removing too many frogs from the wild, weakening natural populations. Second, the imported frogs often bring the chytrid fungus. A separate study found that 62% of bullfrogs sent to California from Asian farms are infected with it, and Scientific American calls these bullfrogs "perfect vectors": They almost never die from the fungus but they do spread it. A 2004 study found native amphibian species that encounter it experience an 80% mortality rate, and it's already wiped out roughly 100 native species worldwide. The groups behind the report are pushing for greater regulation of the trade. (Read more frogs stories.)

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