City accused of harming Sharp Park frogs

Egg masses of California red-legged frogs are drying out and dying at Sharp Park Golf Course because The City routinely pumps fresh water out of its lagoon and onto the beach, a motion filed in federal court last week alleges.

The Wild Equity Institute filed the motion in federal court last week to halt pumping activity at Sharp Park Golf Course they say is illegally killing egg masses. The motion was filed in connection with the Institute’s larger federal suit against The City, scheduled to go to trial in June.

The City is accused of not securing the proper permits required to legally move or otherwise harm egg masses laid in the freshwater pond and lagoon at Sharp Park.

In sworn declarations filed with the court, biologists reported seeing multiple egg masses along the shore of Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada during a visit in late January. When they returned in February, the eggs had been moved, ostensibly by City contract biologists.

SF State biology student Erica Ely stated in her declaration:

“On February 1, 2012, I returned to Sharp Park Golf Course. Some of the egg masses I had previously observed at Laguna Salada were missing, including the egg mass I observed sunken in the muddy lagoon bottom.”

For years, City workers would find and relocate egg masses at risk of drying and relocate them to wetter areas. This practice had been tacitly approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until recently, when the Feds told The City they were no longer allowed to move egg masses without formally applying for permits to do so.

The City is in the process of applying for permits to legally allow these activities. But until the approval process is complete, The City is in violation, according to the motion.

The motion accuses The City of continuing to pump water from the lagoon and moving egg masses without authorization.

The motion is scheduled to be heard in court on April 20.