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Joe Lemeris

Joe Lemeris, one of two resource management biologists for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, spots some bullfrog tadpoles in shallow water at Barnwell State Park.

T&D CORRESPONDENT RON BAXLEY JR.

BARNWELL – Those who are hunting bullfrogs to enter in the 52nd Annual Governor's Frog Jump in Springfield on Saturday, March 31 need not look any further than the Edisto River, the manager of Barnwell State Park says.

Eddie Richburg, who has managed the state park for more than 10 years and has been a park ranger for 28 years, says while bullfrogs can actually be found in any low-lying wetlands in South Carolina, "In my opinion, they are better from the Edisto River. They are having to fight the current,” which makes them better, stronger jumpers.

“I grew up in North near the Edisto River … . We used to go to the Frog Jump every year," Richburg said.

"You don’t want the biggest bullfrog you can get, either,” because they're not always the best jumpers, he said.

According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory/ University of Georgia website, “The bullfrog is the largest frog in the United States, ranging in length from 3.5 to 8 inches. In the southeastern part of the bullfrog’s range, coloration can be a heavy pattern of dark gray, brown, or black above, and a thick mottling below," the site notes.

“The call of the bullfrog is the familiar 'jug-o-rum' that is often heard on summer evenings. When captured by a predator (including a human), a bullfrog may emit a loud screech ... ," according to the website.

Many bullfrogs will spend most of their lives in or near a river, low-lying wetlands, or habitat of still water, such as a pond, biologists note.

Bullfrogs spend at least two to three years of their lives going through metamorphosis in local rivers or ephemeral pools. according to Joe Lemeris, resource management biologist for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Lemeris is one of two biologists who oversee resource management activities across the state’s 47 state parks and historic sites.

“This area has a healthy population of bullfrogs," he said of the Springfield area. Even as tadpoles, the species is large enough that it can survive attacks from predatory fish, and as adult frogs, they will even eat fish themselves, the biologist said.

Of ephemeral pools, another place where bullfrogs can be located, Lemeris said, “They are not always full of water. Amphibians in the Southeast tend to rely on them in the winter and spring during mating. They usually have a decent amount of water in them after heavy rains.”

While bullfrogs are plentiful and not endangered, there are some guidelines those planning to hunt for their Frog Jump title contenders should follow. Number one, catching them in state parks is not permitted.

Richburg also provided the following guidelines for taking care of bullfrogs that are captured for the Frog Jump:

  • Make sure they have water. Keep them in a small amount of natural water – well water, not water containing bleaches or chemicals. Pond or river water would be best.
  • Don’t keep them away from their natural environment for very long. Capture them within a day or so of the Frog Jump.
  • Return frogs after the Frog Jump to the exact habitat where you found them (do not just release them in your yard).
  • If you are not from this area, do not release bullfrogs into a habitat in another region.

Lemeris said when bullfrogs have been introduced into other regions, such as on the West Coast, they have become invasive, eating other amphibian and reptile species and diminishing their populations.

Spectators at the 52nd Annual Governor’s Frog Jump will be able to see some of The T&D Region's best long-distance leapers on Saturday, March 31, at Frog Jump Aren at 303 Aiken St. in Springfield.

Registration for the Frog Jump will begin at 2 p.m., and the competition will get under way at 2:30 p.m.

Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.

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