In Washington state, prisoners are helping to restore the Oregon Spotted Frog species, which is threatened and a candidate for the endangered list.
One prisoner was a drug dealer and a pimp. Another stole cars. Now they have jobs in a correctional center that may contribute to the survival of a wild animal they knew nothing about when they were on the streets committing crimes. The inmates give constant care to their tadpoles and frogs to the degree their specimens are healthier and have a greater chance of surviving than those raised by others. In fact, some of the researchers are asking them for advice. One of the inmates working in the frog caretaking program will be released in December and wants to work in a zoo, at least as a volunteer.
Oregon Spotted Frogs live in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. They have been lost to 78 percent of their former range and were wiped out in California. Usually found in large, warm marshes they eat flies and small fish.
One of the main reasons for the species’ decline is about 95 percent of the historic marsh habitat has been lost. Also the introduction of non-native plants and predatory bullfrogs contributed to the problem. Other predators are river otters, raccoons, herons, and garter snakes. The remaining populations are small and fragmented–two factors which make them more vulnerable to disease, and drought.
Evergreen State College and the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife are collaborating to help the frogs recover.
Last year in Florida inmates were helping take care of companion animals in a shelter program.
Image Credit: William Leonard, Pacificbio.org