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Small chatty frog Senate’s pick for state amphibian

Wed., April 11, 2007

OLYMPIA – Last week, the onion. This week, the frog.

A week after declaring the Walla Walla sweet onion the state’s official vegetable, the state Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to declare a small loud frog the official state amphibian.

“I recommend to you this 1 1/2-inch-long little frog that sings in choruses,” Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, told the Senate.

Barring an unexpected veto by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Pacific chorus frog – known to science as Pseudacris regilla – will join the ranks alongside Washington’s official state fish, gem, fruit, insect, grass, fossil and dance, among others.

“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 Fraser.

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

This type of frog is also a good fit for the Evergreen State, Fairley said.

For one thing, it’s found in both Eastern and Western Washington.

“It is indeed a one-Washington frog,” said Fairley.

Also, she said, the presence of frogs 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 eats mosquitoes.

When one lawmaker asked a boy at a House hearing 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.


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