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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Amphibians as Fish Bait: Ontario Regulations

Worldwide concern over global declines in amphibian populations is growing. Seventeen species of amphibians have declined in Canada over the last three decades, and in some species the decline has been widespread and very serious. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has begun regulating the commercial harvest and sale of frogs for use as bait in Ontario. It is hoped that careful management will help protect frogs from further declines.

Where can frogs be harvested and sold?
The commercial harvest of frogs for bait is allowed in eastern Ontario only, in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carlton, the Counties of Prescott and Russell, Stormont, Dundass and Glengarry, Leeds and Grenville, Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Prince Edward and Hastings, and Renfrew. Dealers who reside outside the approved area can sell frogs on their licence, but the frogs must be purchased from a licensed harvester who has harvested the frogs from inside the approved area.

Who can sell frogs for bait?
Only commercial bait licence holders can harvest and sell frogs. Frogs can be harvested and sold on commercial bait licences issued for other types of bait, so there will be no additional charge for holders of these licences. Holders of these licences check off frogs in the appropriate place on their licence. The number of frogs harvested must be recorded in the Bait Harvest Daily Log and reported on the annual return.

How much does a commercial frog licence cost?
Persons residing in the approved locations who wish to harvest and sell northern leopard frogs, must purchase the Commercial Bait Licence to Harvest Bait for $300.00, and can only harvest frogs from the approved areas. Commercial frog harvesters in the approved locations are not restricted to Bait Harvest Areas (BHAs) and do not pay the BHA fee. Persons who wish to sell frogs only, are required to purchase the Commercial Bait Licence to Deal in Bait for $150.00.

What kinds of frogs can be harvested and sold?
Only northern leopard frogs (Lithobates (Rana) pipiens) may be harvested or sold under the authority of a commercial bait licence. The northern leopard frog is a medium sized frog (adults range from 50-100mm, or 2-4 inches) with large, bold, dark spots bordered with light coloured rings on its back and sides, and with light coloured (frequently coppery) folds of skin running down the sides from behind the eye to the thigh.

The only frog that looks similar enough to be confused with the northern leopard frog is the pickerel frog (Lithobates (Rana) palustris), which is also boldly spotted. Any green frog with bold spots will be a northern leopard frog. A brown frog with bold spots may be either a northern leopard frog or a pickerel frog. You can tell them apart by looking at the underside of the frog. The underside of a northern leopard frog is whitish. If a brown frog with bold spots is bright yellow or yellow-orange on the underside of the hind legs, the groin, or anywhere on the belly, then the frog is a pickerel frog. The harvest and sale of pickerel frogs is not allowed.

Can I still catch frogs for personal, non-commercial use?
Any person who is licensed to sport fish may hunt for frogs that are not specially protected amphibians, anywhere in Ontario.

Starting January 1, 2001, any person hunting frogs under the authority of a sport fishing licence can catch in one day, or possess at one time, up to 12 northern leopard frogs and one specimen of any other frog species that is not a specially protected frog.

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, Fowler's toad, and the Gray Tree frog are specially protected frogs.