*Plagues, Pestilences and Diseases
KILLER FROGS STALK SAN FRANCISCO*
San Francisco poised to checkmate amphibious African predators of Golden
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Monday, March 12, 2007
It's like something out of an animal horror movie -- killer frogs take
over peaceful pond, then after terrorizing and eating everything alive,
start eating each other.
Only it's no movie. It's really happening in Golden Gate Park's Lily
Pond, near the California Academy of Sciences. And after watching the
frogs chew through everything in sight over the past several years, the
city finally wants to do something about it.
No one knows for sure when the African clawed frogs got into the pond or
who put them there. But there they are, and the Toad Warriors have
pretty much taken care of the native turtles, frogs and fish.
"They've eaten everything they can get their mouths around, and now
they're eating each other," said Eric Mills of the animal rights group
Action for Animals.
Mills worries that the fiendish amphibians -- which grow to 5 inches in
length and have claws on the toes of their oversize hind feet -- may
jump the pond and spread their reign of terror across other Bay Area
waterways, although so far, none has popped up elsewhere.
"The fear is they will get out,'' said Richard Schulke, president of the
city's Animal Control and Welfare Commission.
In 2003, the state Department of Fish and Game was going to drain the
pond, but at the last minute, it pulled back. Fish and Game reps didn't
return calls for comment, but Schulke said outrage over the department's
poisoning of pike up at Lake Davis about the same time may have given
the state cold feet.
Since then, park workers have used nets and traps baited with chicken to
yank about 2,500 adult frogs out of the pond. The frogs are then sent up
to Fish and Game in Yountville, where they are euthanized by a special
But the Terminator toads just keep coming back.
"They are cute, but tough," Mills said. "I saw a heron swoop down and
grab one. He had it in his bill for a while, tried to eat it, then just
gave up and spit it out."
In fact, about the only thing known to eat the frogs are crocodiles --
but that solution is probably out.
Instead, the city is thinking of stepping in where the state stepped
back. Although they were warned the cost could be exorbitant, members of
the Animal Control and Welfare Commission voted last week to ask the
Board of Supervisors for money -- whatever it takes -- to drain the pond
once and for all and send the remaining frogs to the big lily pad in the
"I admit it's an unusual thing for an animal-loving group to do,''
But hey, that's life in the food chain.
Big man: Hollywood's Keenen Ivory "Scary Movie, White Chicks, Little
Man" Wayans parachuted into the East Bay the other day on a mission to
rescue his family's dreams for a Universal Studios-style theme park and
film production center at the old Oakland Army Base.
Seems that Wayans/Fulton Group Development -- the outfit run by film
comedy brothers Keenen Ivory, Damon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans -- is
behind on the terms of an exclusive 18-month negotiating agreement to
develop 70 acres of the base's prime bayfront property.
Even the location the brothers want still seems to be up in the air.
"They haphazardly submitted a map that was totally unacceptable,'' said
one frustrated city staffer, who asked not to be named because of the
political sensitivity of the talks.
With the 18-month time frame due to end May 15, Keenen Ivory Wayans
landed in Oakland for a series of fence-mending sit-downs with new Mayor
Ron Dellums and City Council members, assuring them that he and his
brothers were still committed to the plan -- though they may jettison
the theme park in favor of more retail development.
Wayans also promised to be more directly involved in the project from
One person not on the invite list was Councilwoman Jane Brunner, who
says she's open to giving the Wayans brothers extra time -- but only if
they start delivering.
Friend of Bill: Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone must carry some
real clout -- how else do you explain his hour-and-20-minute private
audience with former President Bill Clinton a few days back?
It all started when Stone was quoted in the Washington Times saying that
as much as he liked Hillary Clinton, he wasn't convinced she would win
Stone, who had recently seen Hillary Clinton at a Peninsula event, was
equally impressed with Democratic contenders Barack Obama and Bill
Richardson when he met each of them a couple of weeks back.
No sooner did the story appear than Stone got a call from Clinton's
office, which promptly put Stone through to her pollster to explain just
why she really could win the race.
And it didn't end there.
Late Wednesday, Stone -- who has known the Clintons since his days as
mayor of Sunnyvale back in the late 1980s -- got a call from the former
president's office asking for a meeting down in Monterey the next afternoon.
Stone obliged and was told to show up at a bookstore outside the
Monterey Convention Center, where Bill Clinton had gone to accept an
award from a technology group.
But apparently no one told Clinton himself that he would be talking with
"It was very awkward,'' Stone said. "He didn't know why I was there."
Not that it mattered. In short order, Clinton was giving him a thorough
evaluation of the race -- calling both Obama and John Edwards "young and
good-looking'' but not necessarily the best choices.
"It just boils down to who you think would be the best president, and
I'm telling you I think Hillary would be the best, and I've been
president so I know what it takes,'' Clinton said.
With that, Stone helped Clinton pick out a gift for his wife (four
candles), and the former president bought Stone a book -- biologist
Edward O. Wilson's "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth.''
As for Clinton's appeal? "I have not made a commitment,'' Stone said,
"but obviously, he is pretty persuasive.''
EXTRA! Check out the Matier & Ross Web page this week at
www.SFGate.com/matierandross. Cast your vote for the likely fallout from
Ann Coulter's presidential blast. Play the Arnold Classic bodybuilding
caption contest. Check out the bricks and kisses in feedback. And read
the Extra, Extra, Extra musings and insights of friends including Rich
"Big Vinny'' Lieberman and The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci and Don "Bad