Save Lake Eucumbene’s Frogs

ANGLERS fishing Lake Eucumbene in late October 2010 were pleased to see that the rising waters of the lake had created perfect spawning conditions for the frogs. 

Frogs were in abundance and their future was assured through this massive spawning event, or so we thought.

By early November the water in the lake ceased rising and began to fall, yet the State was in flood and the rains continued, how could this be? 

More importantly anglers watched as the frog spawn was left high and dry.  The baby tadpoles yet to hatch suffered a miserable death by dehydration.  Caring anglers scurried around the lake margin; lifting spawn blobs and putting them back into the water, only to see the whole miserable cycle continue as the waters relentlessly receded. 

How many frog larvae died we will never know, but the receding waters killed far more frogs than any number of trout possibly could – even the deadly chytrid fungus would have been hard pressed to match this slaughter.

For the whole of November an early December the rains fell, the State flooded but Lake Eucumbene continued to fall. 

My investigation of the matter indicated that at the same time there was a large and constant release of water from Khancoban Dam fed by water from Eucumbene, but Snowy Hydro certainly kept silent and no amount of trying could elicit an answer as to why water was being released into a flooded system.

So, once again anglers are up in arms over the unnecessary and brutal treatment of endangered frogs – we stand alone in this with no support from the Greens, the Government or any Bureaucratic Department. 

Then I read Jennifer Marohasy’s blog.  

I, on behalf of the dead frogs of Eucumbene congratulate her on her tenacity in getting to the bottom of this disaster. 

It is not only the low-land farmers who have suffered. 

The blinkered adherence to rules by the faceless bureaucracy has no respect for man nor beast – only words on paper – it is the contract that reigns supreme not us, not the environment.

This type of stupidity must stop, we must start to employ public servants who have brains, are able to rationalise their decisions and who are not afraid to bend a rule for the sake of others.

It will be interesting to see if the Government has the bottle to fix this situation, but somehow I doubt it.  This Government has a great track record in shutting anglers out of areas because they think we are the bane of fish, but the same Government gives licence to wantonly kill threatened native species at will for the sake of an extra dollar.

Shame on Snowy Hydro and shame on this government.

Steve Samuels, President, Monaro Acclimatisation Society Inc

3 Responses to Save Lake Eucumbene’s Frogs

  1. debbie December 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    “The blinkered adherence to rules by the faceless bureaucracy has no respect for man nor beast – only words on paper – it is the contract that reigns supreme not us, not the environment.”
    Well said….and how sad that in this case it is true.
    It is sad because they can show no concern for impacts downstream because their licence or contract says they can.
    It is sad that they have obviously trashed a precious resource down a system that doesn’t need it because their licence or contract says they can.
    Now we hear from you that they can wilfully damage native species because their licence or contract says they can.
    It is also very sad that no one exercised some common sense here!

  2. Stewie December 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I detect a blurring of facts throughout this post.

    Starting with the waterway, Lake Eucumbene.

    It is a man made structure. What would have been there before was a mountain river. Generally fast flowing water with a course, rocky substrate overlying bedrock. A distinct ribbon of riparian vegetation growing on old alluviums adjacent to current course.

    These frogs would have once laid their eggs within these distinct riparian zones, which in turn were effected by the variable flow within the waterway. These mountain streams can be highly variable in their flows and can change significantly on a daily basis, anytime of the year.

    It is my understanding that many frog species have adapted to highly variable conditions, to the point that their eggs have the ability to survive for considerable time out of water. If they didn’t the pressures of natural variability would have got them a long time ago.

    They also have other attributes which ensure their long term survival such as high reproduction counts and rapid dispersal rates, etc.

    It would seem to me that the existence of a massive body of non-flowing water, would allow an artificial boom in such a species population. There is now a massive shoreline to lay eggs on. Nor does the water flow. Where these frogs come from the water levels and velocity can rise and drop rapidly in the course of a few days, due to thunderstorms.

    And then there’s the trout. And we should make it very clear where they sit in the equation. They are an introduced species that are at the top of the food chain. They are a ferocious, highly mobile, fast, and formidable predators, which native species here have no defense against. More than likely trout have had significant effects on certain native species, sadly having probably caused the extinction of some.

    ‘So, once again anglers are up in arms over the unnecessary and brutal treatment of endangered frogs…..’

    Such an emotive and exaggerated statement. The irony of it all. Fisherman who target trout, are being seen as spokespeople for a native species, while their recreational pursuit favors another introduced species that is gobbling up that native species. So are they cheering for the frog per se or the fact that the trout are going to get bigger and fatter?

    Don’t forget predation by wild dogs, cats and foxes. They do eat frogs you know?

    You are sounding like a radical greenie and you don’t need to that. Whats occurred here with the water releases, on the face of it, seems like a blatant act of idiocy, negligence and a complete lack of duty of care, full stop.

    Ah yes, also, the endangered bit. Are you sure it’s endangered? Have they counted them or have they computer extrapolated them. I know it’s the latter that dominates the process.

    When it comes to computer extrapolation and what goes in and what comes out, refer to the science (politics) of climate change. Same thing is happening with flora and fauna. In laymans terms they are making it up and making it fit a predetermined (political) model.

  3. Anthony Matejcich December 20, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Have enjoyed reading many of your articles and this one is cool. I guess the debate generally between the human occupation V natures need to be considered/honoured is a huge issue and one we need to keep in mind when we teach our children about the resources on the planet.
    Where do we go from here?
    Education for Endurance I say.

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