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
US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama eats a frog leg during a stop at the Pier 32 restaurant in Hamilton, Indiana, on August 31, 2008 with his running mate Joe Biden.   (Getty Images)
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(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.

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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