Ranavirus is devastating the frog population in the UK according to recent reports. The disease has been impacting the frog community since about 1996, after making its first appearances in the eighties. In places where the disease has had its hardest effects frog populations have died off by as much as 80 per cent.
Declines this large threaten local extinction for the common frog, the most widespread of the species found throughout Britain, according to the London-based Zoological Society. Smooth newts and the common toad are possibly in extreme danger from the disease as well.
The first deaths from ranavirus began around three decades ago in England’s Southeast. It is believed the virus made its way here through imported fish and/or amphibians. It has taken almost thirty years for the disease to find its way all around the country.
There are now commonly reported outbreaks in Wales, Cornwall, and all the way up to Manchester. After starting in the southeast, it is currently strong in the northeast, in areas around Lancashire.
When the disease hits a population it often lowers it to the point where it becomes susceptible to other environmental factors that can play into the hands of localized extinction. The deaths are frequent in garden ponds where entire populations die off. Reportedly it has become common to get calls of over 30 dead frogs at one time.
Obviously, such rampant death is of great concern to environmental and wildlife experts, to say nothing of garden lovers and frog huggers.