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Volunteers count frogs for annual DNR survey

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Frogs and toads are highly sensitive to habitat degradation, and that makes them a good barometer for environmental health.

Every year volunteers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources do a listening survey to determine which species of frogs and toads are present and how abundant they are.


Volunteer Kathy Gray's survey route is on Old Mission Peninsula.

“Well, I do love the toads. I love the trilling toads," Gray says.


Gray is a retired nurse practitioner in the Traverse City area. She and her spouse help the Michigan DNR with the Frog and Toad Survey to monitor their presence in the area.

“It started out as kind of a date night", she said. "You know, 'let’s get a pizza and let’s go out and listen to frogs,' and then we found out there was a way that you could actually be helpful — and, to make a difference for the environment."

Based on the sound of the frogs, Gray and her spouse estimate their presence on a zero to three scale — zero being no voices, three being constant noise. On their survey route the couple is sometimes able to decipher up to four different species.

“Frogs are very exquisitely vulnerable species," she said. "To see the waxing and waning from year to year of the particular species and the particular environment they are in has kind of really been dramatic."

Gray and the other volunteers will finish their last survey by the end of June. Information about frogs and toads in Michigan can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website.

This story was featured on Points North. You can find the full episode here.

This piece was produced for Interlochen Public Radio by Cheryl Bartz. Red Pine Radio is a group of community members who are learning to make their own radio stories. This community workshop is sponsored by Interlochen Public Radio.

If you're interested in learning more about Red Pine Radio, please contact redpineradio@interlochen.org.