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French People’s Hunger for Frog Legs May Be Leading Some Species to Decline

The French love their frog legs, mais oui. But that’s causing some discomfort—and not because people may be squeamish around the delicacy.

France consumes so many frog legs—or cuisses de grenouille—that it may be leading to species decline, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. That’s according to an open letter from a group of scientists to French President Emmanuel Macron in which they say that the global harvest and trade in frog legs is poorly tracked, causing potential species decline in countries like Indonesia and Turkey.

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“Recent field studies indicate that several species and populations are already experiencing a significant decline,” the authors wrote. “Frog populations native to France and the E.U. are protected against commercial exploitation; the E.U. should no longer permit the overexploitation of frog species and populations in the major supplying countries.”

From 2010 to 2019, the European Union imported the legs of some 2 billion frogs, according to a Nature Conservation study cited by the Post. During that same time period, France itself imported 30,015 tons of frog legs. A report published by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) noted that Indonesia is the biggest source of frog legs sold in the EU, with the majority coming from the wild.

The letter’s authors would like frog legs to be overseen by CITES, a global treaty that regulates trade in animals and animal parts, saying that species could benefit from more stringent oversight.

“There is this global trade in amphibians, which can certainly be non-sustainable,” Jodi Rowley, the herpetology department lead at the Australian Museum and the University of New South Wales, told The Washington Post. “When things come under the control of CITES, at least, you can actually look at the numbers and regulate it a little bit more.” (Rowley did not sign the letter.)

Others, though, claim that the letter overstates the current problem: Mirza D. Kusrini, a professor of forest resources conservation in Indonesia, told the newspaper that she doesn’t agree with the concerns expressed by the letter writers, and that she thinks most Indonesian scientists wouldn’t agree with them either.

That may allow frog-leg eaters to breathe easy for now—at least until someone says they have to cut back on their consumption.


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