Wildlife Biologist Rich Mason Develops a Device to Save Frogs and Other Critters Who Jump Into Swimming Pools
Until the summer of 2004, I never imagined that swimming pools - the source of countless hours of childhood fun - could be so deadly for frogs and other small animals. My interest in this issue, and the birth of the FrogLog, stems from a chance conversation and a challenge brought to my attention by close friends.
In June of 2004, good friends of mine who lived on a heavily wooded lot near Baltimore, Maryland called me very upset and let me know that a huge number of frogs were dying in their recently built in-ground swimming pool.
Nearly every day between one and several frogs and toads were removed from their pool - some were alive but others were dead in the skimmer basket. One particular morning, after a warm rainy night, an astonishing 53 frogs and toads were found in the pool. I spoke with other friends with swimming pools who also said frogs were regularly found in their pools. In addition to frogs, there was the occasional mole, mouse, baby bird, opossum, turtle, salamander, squirrel, bat, chipmunk, and more.
As a wildlife biologist, I found this information troubling and decided to seek a solution. There were a few products already on the market but all had shortcomings. One product was designed to clip onto an in-pool ladder rail - unfortunately many ladder rails attach to the deck outside of the pool wall so that design would not work. Another product was difficult to keep from falling into the pool. A third product was designed for larger animals, primarily pets.
It was at this point that I decided to build my own device and the FrogLog was born. Foam and fabric material was gathered, the sewing machine was pulled out and a crude floating device with a mesh tether was constructed and placed in the pool. For the first few days we did not find any dead animals in the pool; however, we could not tell how effective the device was since there was no way to know how many animals had fallen in. To better document the efficiency of this first primitive FrogLog, a funnel trap (similar to a minnow trap) was placed at the top of the device to catch all the animals that climbed up and out of the pool. The FrogLog was in the pool with the funnel trap for 23 days between August 14th and September 9th 2004. During this period, 47 American toads (Bufo americanus) and 3 green frogs (Rana clamitans) were removed alive from the funnel trap. Two dead American toads were found in the skimmer basket. During this brief test period, the FrogLog was 94% effective at allowing trapped amphibians to climb out of the pool.
Since the results of this first test with the FrogLog prototype were encouraging, several more were built and given to other friends with swimming pools. The feedback was overwhelming. One FrogLog user stated that she had not found one dead frog or any other small animal since installing the FrogLog at the beginning of the summer. Typically, she would average six frogs a week in her pool early in the season. Another user noted a drastic reduction in animals found in the pool and noted far fewer crickets were found in the pool. One user of the FrogLog figured out that turning the skimmer to cycle off at night was a key factor in allowing the animals to find the FrogLog before getting drawn into the skimmer.
The summers of 2004 and 2005 were spent testing and modifying the FrogLog. The FrogLog went on sale to the public in the late summer of 2005 and a patent application was submitted. At this time I knew I had a business, and incorporated as Osprey, LLC doing business as (dba) FrogLog. I chose the name Osprey due to my lifelong love of the outdoors and wildlife. As sales grew, I knew I needed help; in 2010 I brought on Swimline Corp., a manufacturer of pool products, to oversee manufacturing and distribution.
Sales have steadily grown every year and our reach continues to expand Worldwide. 2017 was a particularly exciting year as the amazing FrogLog story was picked up by The Dodo website, CBS News, GoodHousekeeping.com, Business Insider, and many other publications.
At FrogLog, we are interested in working both with the pool industry as well as the conservation community to help pool owners save native animals. I am also always looking to work with scientists to document and better understand this issue as to date so little research has been performed.
This has been amazing journey. As FrogLog has grown and as I have met many, many happy pool owners, my mission remains the same as when it started in 2004: save as many small animals as possible and helping pool owners enjoy their pools to the fullest. Thank you for all of the support over the years!
Founder & Chief Critter Saver