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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 07, 2003 at 11:54:46:
STAR-PHOENIX (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) 06 April 03 Gov't bans live frog bait (Kevin O'Connor)
Regina: Saskatchewan's frogs will be off the hook this year thanks to a change in fishing regulations.
Generations of amateur fishermen have used live frogs as bait, but beginning May 3 -- the start of fishing season -- the practice of using amphibians (frogs, toads and salamanders) will be banned.
According to the Saskatchewan Environment Department, there are areas of the province where the use of frogs as bait is a common practice and there's concern the local amphibian population could be harmed by the practice.
Andrew Didiuk, a Canadian Wildlife Service biologist who is part of a national program monitoring amphibian populations, said the number of frogs on the Prairies has plummeted since the late 1970s.
Saskatchewan is home to seven kinds of amphibians -- one variety of salamander, three types of toads and three types of frogs. The northern leopard frog, the largest of its kind in the province, is a "special concern," because its numbers are shrinking.
Habitat destruction is believed to be a major factor in the decline of frogs. But it's also possible that disease is partly responsible for the decline in the population and that using frogs as bait could cause the disease to spread, Didiuk said. For that reason, the Saskatchewan government's ban on frogs as bait is a sensible move, he said.
"It's responsible stewardship," he said. "I don't think it's going to cause a problem with anglers at all."
The ban will also, no doubt, be a relief to those people who think it's cruel to put live frogs at the end of a hook, Didiuk said.
"There's the public perception -- do we really want to be using live animals?" he said.
Allen Mitchell, owner of Battleford Bait and Tackle, said he doesn't deal in frog bait, but it's common with some anglers.
"Some people use them for walleye," he said.
However, using worms is much more popular, he added. Mitchell doesn't believe the frog ban will be a problem for the fishing industry or anglers.