An effort by animal rights activists to get a local frog gigging contest canceled has touched a raw nerve for many local folk who don't appreciate groups like PETA trying to intervene.
The DeKalb County Young Farmers and Ranchers "Giggin' for Grads", sponsored by the Farm Bureau, is an event set for July 12 aimed to provide a DeKalb County High School senior with a scholarship. But the event is apparently not just for seniors. The tournament is also open to the public. According to a Face Book source, " This is not meant to be the senior that gigs the most frogs gets a scholarship. Award money will be given out to the three teams with the heaviest bags (of frogs). The scholarship will be given with the remaining money. We will choose a graduating senior and give out the award at the end of this school year."
Though the fundraiser is not sanctioned by the DeKalb County School System, a petition to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps asks for supporters to voice their concern.
On its website, Forcechange.com. says gigging frogs, while legal, is a cruel killing of wild frogs.
However, Danny Bryan of Smithville, an assistant professor of Biology at Cumberland University told WJLE in a telephone interview Friday that frog gigging is neither inhumane or unsafe. "When a frog is gigged, it's a humane way of killing the animal. Most of the time when the frogs are gigged that includes gigging the frog in the head, which is basically instant death," said Bryan.
"As far as animal cruelty goes, I don't much believe this event (Giggin' for Grads) is any different than having some type of fishing rodeo or anything where you're going out and catching fish to win a contest or going out to a catfish pond to catch catfish to cook for dinner."
"The frogs they're going to be gigging are pretty much going to be bullfrogs and green frogs. There aren't any other frog species around large enough to eat. The other things about these types of frogs, they can carry diseases that are detrimental to other native species of frogs. Pretty much what we're looking at is the Ranavirus and the chytrid fugus which can literally just wipe out entire populations of amphibians, not just frogs but salamanders as well," he said.
"These individuals are not going out to natural wetlands to do the frog gigging. They're doing this at artificial wetlands or farm ponds. It's not like they're going out and just and wiping out entire populations of frogs," said Bryan
"I really don't think it's a dangerous sport. There are no firearms involved. There are no bows and arrows. It's a gig on a stick and it's done at night typically when you can spotlight the frogs. It's not as easy as it sounds to go out and gig a frog. It is a regulated sporting event. There is a hunting season for frog gigging so I think there has been a lot blown out of proportion," said Bryan
All waters of the state are open to bullfrog hunting except waters within state and federal wildlife refuges. The season is open year-round, except on TWRA managed lakes the season is June 1-30. The bag limit is 20 per person, per night. The use of firearms is prohibited for bullfrog hunting on Wildlife Management Areas and TWRA lakes. Pellet guns (air rifles) are not firearms. Only domestically raised bullfrogs or parts thereof may be sold. A hunting license is required to take bullfrogs. No WMA permit is required.