Some Wisconsinites mark the arrival of spring with the first sight of a robin; others know winter is gone when they hear the songs of frogs.

“The singing frogs are the true sign that winter has lost its grip and warmer weather is here,” said Beaver Creek Reserve naturalist Ruth Forsgren.

Forsgren will present a program about the amphibians and the important role they play in the environment at the April Friends of the Black River meeting. The meeting will be held Wednesday, April 11, in the Jackson County Bank community room beginning at 6:30 p.m. Forsgren’s program is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Forsgren has been with Beaver Creek for 26 years. She is a graduate of UW-Stevens Point, holding degrees in environmental education/interpretation and youth programming/camp management.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the state is home to 12 species of frogs including the American toad.

An abundance of frogs in an area indicates a healthy environment. However, frogs are very susceptible to chemical contaminates in the environment. The toxins can cause mutations and cancers in frogs.

A die-off or an absence of frogs indicates there’s a problem with water, air or soil in their habitat. Alarmingly, the amphibians’ spring serenades are becoming less common and a lack of frogs in an ecosystem can have disturbing implications for humans.

“Frogs are considered a keystone species,” said Forsgren. “They are an indicator of habitat health, often the first to be affected by pollution or degradation of an ecosystem. Frogs also help to keep an ecosystem in balance by eating a large variety of insects and small animals.”

For more information about the program or FBR, email info_fbr@yahoo.com.

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