Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Austrian frogs pinched by Italians (Via HerpDigest)

Austrian frogs pinched by Italians

BigPond News, April 20, 2011 -Austrian Wildlife authoritiesare hopping mad that efforts to save the local frog population are being hampered by Italian poachers.

Officials in southern Austrian province Carinthia say poachers are collecting frogs from the roadside buckets they have been guided into to save them from busy highways, and are then smuggling them home to Italian dinner tables.

Frogs' legs are a delicacy in some parts of Italy and officials have told Austrian state television that the victims tend to be those with the meatiest thighs.

Frogs attempting to cross some Austrian highways are channelled by a series of fences into roadside buckets. Once a day, volunteers collect the buckets and carry the amphibians to the other side of the road and set them free.

But 'the Italians strike before the frog pickers come', says Carinthian environmental official Bernhard Gutleb.

The delicacy can be costly. Officials warn that those caught with their hand in the bucket face fines up to 3600 euros ($A4889).

Nearly one third of the world's 6485 frog species are on the brink of extinction, according to Save The Frogs - a nonprofit organisation dedicated to amphibian conservation.

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