[ RANA MUSCOSA ]
Sleeping under lakes lidded with several feet of ice and snow, the 2- to 3-inch-long yellow-legged frog of the High Sierra awaits not only the spring thaw but also critical decisions that will determine its fate. Once abundant in the Sierra Nevada and in mountain ranges circling the Los Angeles Basin, these hardy amphibians number fewer than an estimated 100 individuals in all of Southern California plus a remote area of Yosemite and Kings Canyon-Sequoia national parks. Wildlife biologists attribute the drastic decline to voracious nonnative trout that devour their tadpoles. As the ice melts, the debate over the benefits and risks of fish stocking continues among conservationists, wildlife managers and anglers.