Friday, October 7, 2011

The Plague of Frogs. French version.

This is what the great LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.
— Exodus 8:1–4

So reads the account in Exodus of the Second Plague, the Plague of Frogs.  But I guess Pharaoh had it coming in a sense.  It is harder to see just what the French have done to deserve a similar problem.

Supposedly some forty years ago a few American bull frogs (Rana Catesbeiana) were released as a joke in a private pond near Liborne.  Since that time these frisky amphibians have discovered what all prior and subsequent American ex-pats know, that life in France is great.  In particular the dining is superb. 

It turns out that American bull frogs thrive in France, supposedly growing to weights nearing 4 pounds, and lengths-legs extended we assume-of almost two feet long.  Some serious frogs in Frogland in other words.

They eat everything in their path.  Other frogs, even their own kin.  Fish, lizards, small aquatic birds.  Fancy sauces are not mentioned in any of the material I read, but can't be dismissed out of hand.

In addition to being known for superb cuisine, France is of course also the land of amore.  And these lusty American imports- "over sized, over sexed and over here" as one reporter put it-have been amorous indeed.  A breeding pair can produce 25,000 tadpoles in one season. From their initial foothold they have spread through a large portion of south west France.

The obvious solution would be to eat them.  But French gourmands sneer at frog legs that would make a back woods red neck in Alabama smack his lips. 

Control efforts have been of limited impact.  Application of electric shock to a pond full of the intruding hoppers for a full two hours resulted in exactly one fatality.  Netting, draining ponds and so forth have also failed.

Recent reports are sketchy, but apparently the best tactic has been to send out teams of snipers with spot lights and small caliber rifles.  By taking pot shots at the reflective eyes of the frogs some modest reduction in numbers of reproducing adults can be accomplished.  How many ricochets and terminated local frogs is not mentioned.

Croak, darn you!

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