Last week we attended the Merville Frogfest, an annual community potluck and gathering to help publicise the problems caused by the introduced bullfrog species (and, for some attendees, to consume them). These large frogs were apparently introduced to the Fraser Valley and southeast Vancouver Island to be bred and used as food, but as so often happens, they somehow escaped into the wild and are marching relentlessly up island, multiplying by the millions. They arrived in the Comox Valley ten years ago, and continue their spread north and west from here. They prey on anything they can get hold of, which includes all our native frogs, spawn and tadpoles, as well as fish of all kinds, baby birds and even dragonflies. There are so many of them that it is easy to scoop up in nets 50 or 60 in an hour out in a canoe on ponds and wetlands in Merville, as well as many other places in the Comox Valley, and all over the south of the island. Many environmentalists are keen to attempt to limit the bullfrogs as much as possible by catching and killing them, although it will never be possible to eradicate them, let alone make much of a dent in their population. Thus the island ecosystem is being changed forever. Before too long many of our native pond and wetland dwellers will be endangered or extinct.
From what i read in the papers, i understand a certain local entrepeneur wants to introduce aquatic animals called sea cucumbers in large numbers into our local ocean waters for the purpose of a commercial enterprise to sell them to the Chinese, who we hear relish eating these disgusting looking creatures.
I have an idea. Forget messing up our ocean ecosystem forever, and start up a bullfrog industry instead to sell to the Chinese, who already eat frogs as part of their diet. This could solve all our resource and unemployment problems. Those outdoorsy types with hunting instincts could earn a living catching the frogs, and others could work in the processing plants where frogs could be made into every conceivable product. Entrepeneurs, secretaries, sales people and transport trades would all be involved. Bargeloads of the frogs could be sent to China along with the barges of metal and plastic now going there. Start a rumour about the aphrodisiac properties of the exceptionally prolific bullfrogs, and the Chinese would be clamouring for them. Perhaps body parts (ahem) other than the legs would become popular there. Vancouver Island would become world famous, and B.C. a wealthy province. Who needs resources like oil and coal when you’ve got something as valuable as bullfrogs overrunning the place and free for the picking? No forests need to be cut down or mines opened or oceans infested with unnatural quantities of foreign animals. The absense of millions of bullfrogs would do no harm at all, in fact the project would receive accolades for cutting edge environmentalism. And think of all the secondary industries that would boom, things like bullfrog fertiliser, made with the leftovers since much of the frog isn’t eaten, bullfrog art, stationary, jewellry, shopping bags, you name it. Plenty of harmless scope for entrepeneurs. The bullfrog could become the symbol of the Comox Valley, and our gateway to wealth.
So i hope a few of you, while considering the sea cucumber issue, have taken note of the vast history of disasters caused by species introduced to non-native environments by humans. In every case it has been preventable. Why allow this history to repeat itself yet again? If Mother Nature intended there to be sea cucumbers in vast quantities in our strait, they’d be there; but instead, a small number now live in balanced harmony with their surroundings. Think of the bullfrog: A Pandora’s Box can never be closed again. What gives one commercial enterprise the right to change our ocean ecosystem now and forever? Our oceans not only belong to all of us, they belong to future generations too. They do not belong to one small interest group out to make huge profits. Please make your voices heard against this commercial application. Write to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations at 2500 Cliffe Ave. V9N 5M6.
And no, generally sticking to vegetarian food myself, i didn’t try the frog, or even really want look at it. Yuck. But my husband tried a leg, and yes apparently, just like chicken.