Man pleads guilty to moving endangered tadpoles, frogs

The Associated Press
Friday November 17, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO — An environmental consultant pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to unlawfully moving hundreds of endangered California Red-legged frogs from a housing construction site. 

John Zentner and employees of his company collected more than 50 of the frogs and 500 tadpoles from the site and relocated them to a shallow pond that was to be preserved.  

Zentner was fined a total of $75,000 in U.S. District Court and still faces a potential jail term of up to six months. 

Many of the relocated frogs died. 

“Deliberately modifying the habitat of threatened or endangered species in a way that upsets their essential life functions harms biological diversity and degrades our environment,” said Lois Schiffer of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. 

Court documents revealed that Zentner’s company was hired as an environmental consultant at a residential development in Concord, Calif. to ensure the project was in compliance with federal and state wetland and animal protection requirements. 

Zentner admitted to the court that he told federal authorities that none of the frogs were present at the site, but Zentner had actually moved them before the groundbreaking. 

The California Red-legged frog is found only in California and is said to have inspired Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”