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Frog species thought to be extinct found alive

SYDNEY - A species of frog thought to have been extinct for 30 years has been found in rural Australian farmland, officials said yesterday.

The rediscovery of the yellow-spotted bell frog is a reminder of the need to protect natural habitats so "future generations can enjoy the noise and color of our native animals," said Frank Sartor, minister for environment and climate change.

A fisheries conservation officer stumbled across a bell frog in October 2008 while researching an endangered fish species in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales state. The officer, Luke Pearce, told The Associated Press he had been walking along a stream trying to catch a southern pygmy perch when he spotted the frog next to the water.

Pearce returned in the same season in 2009 with experts who confirmed it was a colony of around 100 yellow-spotted bell frogs.

Said Dave Hunter, threatened species officer with the Department of Climate Change and Water, "It gives us a lot of hope that a lot of other species that we thought were extinct aren't actually extinct - we just haven't found them." The find wasn't made public until now to allow enough time to establish conservation measures to protect the frogs from many dangers, including poaching, he said.

The discovery is "as significant in the amphibian world as it would be to discover the Tasmanian tiger, said Sartor. The last known tiger, a cousin of the Tasmanian devil, died in a zoo in 1933, although unconfirmed sightings have been reported since then.

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