“But you can’t step on them OK?”
11-YEAR-OLD GEORGE HENLEY
Maybe there was something in the water. Or maybe it was because the frogs returned to the swamp after their unexpected trip to town last year spread the word.
Whatever the reason, the lagoon squad capturing frogs for this community’s 40th annual Frog Follies was having a hard time filling their barrel last week.
“These things get smarter every year,” said Wesley Fallis as he carefully scanned the shorelines with his net in hand. He and his fellow card-carrying members of the Frog Follies “Secret” Frog-Catching Society had been hunting for more than an hour and had only three frogs to show for their efforts.
The outlook for the festival’s anchor activity just two days away was looking a little grim. You can’t have frog races without frogs.
The frogs were there all right, their buggy eyes poking out of the water to observe the shoreline predators with perhaps a hint of disdain. But for the most part, the wily amphibians stayed handily just beyond the boys’ reach.
Although at the ripe old age of 12, Fallis’s estimate that he’s been frog catching for the festival “thousands of times” sounds a little exaggerated, he was no doubt one of the more seasoned frog catchers working to ensure the community’s annual celebration was a success. Undaunted, he soon hitched a ride back to his house and returned to the lagoon decked out in tall rubber boots and waterproof pants so he could extend his net’s reach.
Frog catching is a game with few rules. Once a hapless frog is scooped into the net, body tackle it if you must to keep it from leaping out of the net and back into the grasses, where its spots easily blend into the lush vegetation. “But you can’t step on them OK?” 11-year-old George Henley Bruneau told his two younger companions.
The frogs used in the weekend races are handled with care. They are captured under a special permit issued by Manitoba Conservation and kept in a climate-controlled environment until they go to the races. One of the conditions of their capture is they be returned to their home swamp after the weekend, said Rolly Gagné, vice-chair of the Frog Follies committee and co-ordinator of this year’s frog hunt.
Meanwhile, the squad that headed for the golf course was having much better luck. They snagged nearly 40 of all shapes and sizes before it was time to head off to the local Bigway Store for ice cream. [email protected]