TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The State of Utah is serving up the American Bullfrog on a silver platter but in Texas, where frog “gigging” is more popular, the laws are more strict.
In Utah, the American Bullfrog is an invasive species and Utahns can hunt as many bullfrogs as they can eat, according to KTVX. Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources even lists its own “breaded bullfrog legs” recipe. Texas is a different story for the amphibians, though.
Bullfrogs are native to parts of Texas, but are considered invasive in much of the western U.S. and several other continents.
“It is a significant predator on anything it can get in its mouth,” said former UT Tyler professor and internationally recognized herpetologist, Dr. Neil Ford. “In the west, those prey have not evolved with the bullfrog, so [they] have no defense. In addition, no predators on bullfrogs occur in those states. Bullfrogs also have a high reproductive rate.”
In Texas, bullfrogs are hunted for their legs, which are usually served fried or put into stews. Texans with proper permits can still hunt and eat frogs, though frogging in the Lone Star State comes with its fair share of regulations.
While Utahans are encouraged to eat the bullfrog, Texas’s Parks and Wildlife Department is interested in preserving all of the states native species, including frogs, through the Texas Nature Trackers.
Texas Nature Trackers is a program dedicated to documenting the populations of certain threatened or endangered species in Texas, and naturally this includes amphibians. There are several species of amphibian to watch out for like the endangered Houston Toad and even the common Bullfrog, according to TPWD’s Amphibian-Spotter Guidelines.
For those interested in trying their hand at frogging or partaking in the frog leg southern delicacy, there are rules you should know about frogging in Texas.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a license or permit is required to capture any kind of wildlife. There are two options when it comes to licenses and permits. You can acquire a Texas hunting license or a scientific permit by attending a TPWD amphibian monitoring workshop.
The standard resident hunting license costs $25, youth licenses and senior licenses cost $7, and all can be bought online at Texas Parks and Wildlife department’s website.
Here are the frog-specific rules that Texas Parks and Wildlife lists:
- The collection of any frog is not allowed on public roads
- You don’t need a permit or license to count frogs as an amphibian spotter
- If licensed, you may not have more than 25 frogs or toads at any given time
- School teachers can obtain a permit to possess more than 25 frogs or toads
- The Houston Toad and many salamanders (including the Texas Blind Salamander, pictured below) are federally endangered and can’t be caught without federal permits
They also list several rules and tips to keep you and your frogs safe:
- Ask for permission from landowners, don’t get shot for frogs
- Stick to the same path in the wetlands
- When you put your frogs back, leave them where you found them
- Keep your frogs moist
- Don’t keep more than one frog in the same container for more than a few minutes
- Keep your frog containers in the shade, so your froggy friends stay cool
- Keep your containers vented and covered because frogs are jumpy
- Bring a friend in case you get “stuck in the muck”
- Know how to identify and stay away from local poisonous plants
- Keep an eye out for Texas-water moccasins, cottonmouths, copperheads and coral snakes
- Wash your hands after handling frogs, toads or salamanders some have toxic skin
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pants into your socks if there are ticks nearby
Wherever you frog, why ever you frog, if you’re just hopping into it or if you’re an ancient amphibian acquirer, be sure to follow your local rules and stay safe. Don’t end up like a frog that can’t hop out of a sticky situation!
Let’s end it on a fun note. Here’s some ribbiting froggy fun facts about the American Bullfrog from the University of California’s Amphibia:
- The American Bullfrog is the largest frog species in North America
- The male Bullfrog’s call lasts around 0.8 seconds
- The female Bullfrog can lay a clutch of as many 20,000 eggs
- Bullfrogs are down with cannibalism, other bullfrogs can make up to 80% of their diet
- Bullfrogs are so adept at colonization that they threaten many native species
- Male Bullfrogs often croak in groups called choruses
- Female Bullfrogs will lose up to 27% of their body mass when laying their eggs
- Bullfrogs have the ability to coexist with predatory fish, unlike other frogs
- Bullfrogs are the last true frog to awaken in the spring
- Bullfrogs can cause a “mass Bullfrog exodus” by croaking while fleeing from predators