COLUMBIA — Beginning at sunset Thursday and lasting until Oct. 31, bullfrogs and green frogs will be legal to catch and harvest in Missouri.
The most popular methods of harvesting frogs are by hand and by gig, according to Sean Ernst, a conservation agent at the Missouri Department of Conservation Central Regional Office. A gig is a multi-pronged spear.
Hunters can harvest frogs in many locations, but there are ideal conditions for finding the amphibians. Bullfrogs are more commonly found in larger ponds and lakes stocked with fish, and green frogs can be found more in forest habitats and along creeks and rivers, according to MU biologist Bill Peterman.
"With the number of farm ponds and rivers here, it's a great opportunity to get outdoors at night," Ernst said.
Frogs might be easiest to locate after dark because they croak at night, but it is possible to hunt them during the day.
"It's a deep, bulbous croaking sound that makes it easier to hunt at night," Ernst said. "Follow the telltale sign of croaking."
The visibility of frogs at night are another advantage of hunting them at this time.
"At night, giggers or froggers might have a better advantage because their eyes reflect light back, so if you scan the water surface with a light, you can find them that way," Peterman said.
Wildlife code only permits hunting a total of eight frogs per day, and the possession limit is 16 frogs.
Within the first weeks of the season, frogs can disappear from certain areas quickly because of the number of froggers the area has seen.
"It could be in the first few weeks it's the really bold, obvious, naive individuals being removed from the area," Peterman said.
These frogs are more likely to stay put rather than be chased off if not many people have been to the area. The frog populations are not significantly affected, though.
"Frogs produce so many offspring, and they have a lot of success reaching maturity. They will certainly be replenished," Peterman said.
The Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife code requires frog hunters to have a valid permit depending on the method used to harvest the frogs. For those younger than 16 and older than 65, a permit is not required.
A fishing permit is required for harvesting by hand, hand net, gig, trotline, throw line, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing or pole line. When using a line, the methods include sitting with the line and leaving it in the water. A hunting permit is required for harvesting using a .22-caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or pistol, pellet gun, atlatl — a device used to throw spears — longbow or crossbow.