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Eye On Olympia

A week after declaring a state vegetable (an onion), we have a state amphibian…

Meet Pseudacris.

Barring an unexpected veto by Gov. Chris Gregoire, this little frog is about to become Washington’s official “state amphibian.”

The state Senate a few minutes ago unanimously passed a bill to bestow that title on the Pacific chorus frog, known to science as Pseudacris regilla.

“We didn’t hear a word from the salamander lobby, so evidently the frog is it,” said Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Seattle.

It’s the state’s most abundant frog, apparently, and a remarkably loud one, according to Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.

“They can sing so loud they can drown out traffic and even hit 90 decibels,” she told the Senate.

“I recommend to you this 1 1/2-inch-long little frog that sings in choruses,” she said.

It’s a good fit for the Evergreen State, Fairley said, since this type of frog is found in both Eastern and Western Washington and their presence indicates a clean environment.

“Frogs are indeed the canary in the coal mine for our air quality,” she said, “and they are going away.”

The Senate vote capped a lobbying campaign by third graders at Olympia’s Boston Harbor Elementary School, who wrote lawmakers and testified on behalf of the creature in front of House and Senate committees. The students played a recording of the frog’s croaking, and noted that the species also eats mosquitoes.

When one lawmaker asked a boy at a House hearing earlier this year why this croaking amphibian would be a good choice for a state symbol, the boy thought for a moment.

“It has a beautiful sound,” he said.

(Photograph courtesy of John Sullivan, of www.wildherps.com)

Mea culpa: An earlier version of this post misspelled Pseudacris as “Pseudocris.”


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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