Roadside frogs in danger

At risk: A growling grass frog in the Grampians National Park. The frog faces serious threats in Ballarat. Picture: David Paul, image supplied by Museum Victoria.

At risk: A growling grass frog in the Grampians National Park. The frog faces serious threats in Ballarat. Picture: David Paul, image supplied by Museum Victoria.

Provisions have not been made to protect a native frog that lives and breeds beside a major road slated for duplication this December.

Ditchy's take

Ditchy's take

With only about 200 growling grass frogs remaining in and around Ballarat, an environmental consultant has flagged his concern the frogs could be locally wiped out with the duplication of Cherry Flat Road.

A 600-metre section of the road will be converted into a dual carriageway between December and April next year.

It’s the first step in preparation for the increased traffic expected with the opening of the Delacombe Town Centre development, slated for completion by September next year.

Consultant and Ballarat Environment Network member Ray Draper said he had worked with “growlers” for 45 years, and in that time had seen their population drop significantly.

He said while a fungus outbreak between 1989 and 1992 was largely to blame, development was wiping out the remaining tiny populations.

He said December’s roadworks could spell disaster for the frogs in that area.

“They are going to have to widen some of those roads, which will take in some of the dams (beside Cherry Flat Road). From September to January they live in the dams, because that’s when they’re breeding,” Mr Draper said.

He said the Ballarat Environment Network had pressured the City of Ballarat throughout last year regarding the issue, but had still not heard back regarding a solution.

Mr Draper said with such tiny populations left in Ballarat, the frogs would start in-breeding and warned about similar cases in other countries where frogs had develop malformations.

“They’re in isolated populations, which genetically is no good. We don’t know what happens with amphibians when they start in-breeding. They’ll only travel about 2km across land,” he said.

Mr Draper said the frogs lived along both sides of Cherry Flat Road, in various creeks, dams and bodies of water, but had not yet been registered on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.

He said provisions for another threatened frog population, the Bibron's toadlet, had been made along the planned Ballarat Western Link Road by placing retention ponds between the road and the frog’s habitat.

The City of Ballarat is rolling out the roadworks project, which is funded by developers H Troon.

A council spokesperson said officers were unable to provide comment.