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Taskforce Growler

Time to get growling!

A community-driven campaign called ‘Taskforce Growler’ gets under way this week to support the return of an iconic native frog to north-eastern Victoria.

The growling grass frog, once common at Winton Wetlands and elsewhere, is being brought back to the wetlands to help restore natural conditions and encourage the return of other native species – especially birds – back to the area.

Taskforce Growler is an alliance being formed between members of the public, wetland scientists and land and water managers across the region, working together in a coordinated effort. The campaign was officially launched at Winton Wetlands late last week, with operations getting under way from this week onwards.

According to restoration manager Dr Lisa Farnsworth, bringing back the growling grass frog – or ‘growler’ as it is affectionately known – will strike a major blow for promoting increased biodiversity in the region.

“Growlers are endangered in Victoria and have not been seen around Winton Wetlands since the time the wetlands were flooded to form Lake Mokoan many years ago,” Dr Farnsworth said today. “The water quality and conditions provided by the lake were not conducive to the breeding cycle of growlers so they were lost to the area. Although the lake was decommissioned more than 10 years ago, the frogs haven’t returned.”

The loss of growlers is believed to have contributed to the loss of other native species in the area, particularly birds which once fed on these frogs.

“Growlers occupied a place in the local ecology which does not appear to be filled by any other frog species. Fortunately, growlers still survive in some other parts of Victoria, so we have been able to source some for relocation, under strict regulations.  With backing from Taskforce Growler, we’re hoping to be able to help lead the way for other amphibian ‘re-wilding’ projects around Australia and beyond.”

Taskforce Growler is offering a range of ways for members of the public to make direct practical contributions to the success of the growler relocation and breeding activities, through volunteering and fundraising activities of various kinds due to happen throughout 2023.

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As well as the more serious side of wildlife conservation and restoration, Dr Farnsworth said Taskforce Growler was setting out to offer an element of fun as well – as can be seen from the campaign logo being rolled out from this week.