Wildlife officials warn of invasive frogs in Washington

An invasive species is consuming and competing with native species in western Washington, including salmon.

Scientists have spotted African clawed frogs in Issaquah, Lacey and Bothell, according to the Washington Invasive Species Council. The frogs were initially brought into the United States to be used in pregnancy tests and later became pets, said state wildlife scientist Max Lambert.

Although Washington made it illegal to own them, some still do. Some who have decided not to keep the frogs, and released them into ponds and streams. As officials began looking into the issue, they discovered hundreds of frogs.

“These are considered one of the worst invasive species on earth,” Lambert said. “They’ll eat a lot of native insects, which are good forage food for our fishes and our amphibians, they will eat tadpoles of our native salamanders, and they’ll eat fish. We looked at some of their stomach contents - and they’re full of baby fish.”

According to the Washington Invasive Species Council, the frogs reproduce so rapidly, that they can double their population, and range, within 10 years.

The frogs will eat anything that will fit in their mouths including other frogs, fish, birds, mammals, and snails.

People working to restore salmon populations fear the frogs will infringe on that progress.

Since Trout Unlimited began trapping in January, the organization has caught about 300 frogs, Rebecca Lavier said. Around half of those have been found in the past few weeks. They believe it’s just a fraction of the population.