Is It Official Yet? The Update on the (Unofficial) NYS Amphibian.
By Lili Winkelman, Ellie McSwain and Ashlen Rossi
Many people know already that we (the Wood Frog Club) have been trying to make the wood frog the official New York State amphibian for five years now (it is currently the unofficial state amphibian). We have wanted to give an update to the public regarding where the bill is in the legislative process. Right now, our bill is in the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee and the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee. It has been at this step in the process for three years. This is because unpassed legislation must restart the entire process every two years. The wood frog bill still must be put on the Senate and Assembly floor calendar, pass the Senate and Assembly, go through several more committees, and be signed by the governor. As you can see, we still have a long way to go.
There are many benefits to having an official state amphibian. Thirty-three other states in our country have official state amphibians, and they are bringing awareness to the species in this category. Official state amphibian status would bring attention to the medical opportunities that the wood frog provides. For example, it has the potential to cure diabetes. One of the most amazing facts about the wood frog is that it can freeze itself during the winter and come alive again in the spring. When it freezes, its blood sugar rises to over 100 times its normal level. If scientists can figure out why this happens, they could find a cure for diabetes. Also, with more research on the wood frog’s freezing capabilities, scientists could find a way to freeze transplants so they can travel longer distances. Once again, official state amphibian status would raise awareness about these opportunities in the field of medicine.
Some people think that we should not be distracting our lawmakers with “unimportant legislation”. However, the wood frog’s medical benefits and the opportunity to raise environmental awareness about the wood frog and other species makes passing this bill worthwhile. We know that passing this bill will change New York for the better. We have also heard from people who think that having a state amphibian will result in building restrictions. However, according to the IUCN Red List, the wood frog is a species of “least concern”.This means that it is not in any danger of going extinct. In fact, the wood frog lives in every county of New York State, making it the perfect state amphibian. Since the wood frog is not endangered, no additional regulations or restrictions should be a concern when the bill is passed.
Although our club has done a lot to help the wood frog legislation pass, we cannot make this happen without help from the community. You can help by contacting lawmakers and letting them know why they should support the wood frog as the official state amphibian. Senator John DeFrancisco (the Senator from our area) and Assemblyman Gary Finch (the Assembly Member from our area) are on board and have done a lot to help us, but we still need to spread the word to other lawmakers. The New York State Senate website (nysenate.gov) and the New York State Assembly website (nyassembly.gov) have lists of New York State lawmakers along with their contact information. Contacting a lawmaker takes little time and is a huge help to our cause.
Overall, we’d like to thank everyone that has helped us, including Mrs. Manna, Ms. Klunder, Senator DeFrancisco, Assembly Members Finch and Englebright, and other members of our community. With your help, we hope to make the wood frog the official state amphibian!