Friday, March 28, 2014

French Poachers Arrested for Hacking off and Selling Frog Legs on the Black Market

One of many frogs threatened by the growing demand of frogs' legs in France.

When most people think of frogs as delicacy, one place that usually comes to mind is France. Frogs' legs, known locally as cuisses de grenouille, are a popular food in France and conservative estimates indicate that up to 100 million pairs of frogs' legs are consumed every year. However, frogs in France have been a protected species for more than twenty years after the government ordered a ban on hunting of these amphibians in the wild. Therefore, majority of frogs consumed annually are imported into the country. Unfortunately, the growing demand for the delicacy has resulted in several illegal poaching operations in France. One example was recently reported, in which three French men aged between 45 and 50 were arrested with nearly 1,100 illegally captured and mangled frogs. The three men, who are from the commune of Landeyrat in the Cantal department, had been armed with professional traps and cages containing the frogs they had been catching in wetland areas. They had planned to provide the legs to chefs in the Auvergne region. It is said that chefs pay roughly seven pounds for a dozen pairs of native frog legs, which are served with garlic and parsley. According to the police, the frogs confiscated from the poachers would have been worth roughly 400 pounds on the black market. The three men were arrested through a long operation which consisted of using surveillance, and are facing a one-year prison term and a fine of 12,500 pounds.
Frog legs: cooked (top) and raw (bottom)

It is incredible to know that while frogs' legs are considered a delicacy in France, the method of obtaining them through hunting in local areas of the country is considered to be illegal. However, because of the growing demand of such a delicacy, people are resorting to dishonest means of obtaining frogs' legs by violating the law. This recent incident saw a rise in the number of native frogs in France being ruthlessly slaughtered to not only satisfy the public, but also dramatically impact the local ecosystems of the country's wetlands. The frogs are a keystone species in a wetland ecosystem by maintaining its balance through insect consumption. If they disappear, then the insect population in France would increase to immense levels and cause major problems for the local people. In addition, populations of other animals that feed on frogs would also diminish. This is why it is extremely crucial to educate the public about the ecological importance of frogs, and encourage them to help save the frogs by reporting any suspicious activities occurring in their natural habitats. If the frogs disappear from France's wetlands, then the ecosystems of these wetlands would be turned upside-down.

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