(by, Sally Ann Buchanan)
Killer Frogs??? Sounds like an oxymoron, sort of like “Jumbo Shrimp” or “Freezer Burn” .When one conjures up images of frogs, we usually think of lily pad leaping, beautifully exotic colored, aquatic acrobats. Not terrorizing, claw toed cannibalistic monsters. But in our zombie apocalyptic crazed world, it would almost seem normal for the African Clawed Frog to be a B-movie monster envisioned by some “20 something” director.
As is the sometimes the case, the truth can be stranger than fiction. The African Clawed Frog was a very real menace and a very real problem for the Department of Fish and Game in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park’s Lily Pond… or what’s left of it… The African Clawed Frog ate all the vegetation in the pond, then all the fish, and when that food ran out, they resorted to eating each other.
This unfortunately is what happens when we American’s buy exotic pets and then decide we don’t want them anymore. Well, we can’t flush them down the toilet, that would be cruel… So we decide we’ll let them go in the 34,000 square foot Lily Pond where they will be happy with plenty of room…That’s evidentially what happened, and the City of San Francisco has been busy trying to get rid of them ever since.
In 2003 the decision was made to drain the pond, but the City changed it’s  mind. Since that time thousands of adult frogs have been pulled out of the pond and euthanized, but they are like a nightmare , they just keep coming back.
Finally, the Natural Areas Program Director,  Jon Campo, contacted Mary and Ed Hernandez , the owners of Mission City Fumigation of Santa Maria, CA. and asked if they would be willing to work together as part of a team to create a solution to the “Killer Frog” problem. Mary and Ed Hernandez were in a unique position to help the City of San Francisco because, not only are they experts in fumigation, they also own a heavy fabric construction company called Hernandez Sewing, which is the company the City of San Francisco wanted to hire.
The City’s solution to the cannibal frog problem was to cover the pond with a thick layer of netting. and then cover over the netting with fumigation tarps held down securely with sand snakes (large tubes of tarp material filled with sand, used as weights). Lastly, the city was hiring the Department of Fish and Wildlife to pump in Co2 to help control any remaining invaders.
Mother Nature did her best to stop the procedure. Hernandez Sewing/ Mission City Fumigation began their part of the process on 11/28 and the rains began. It rained and rained all the way until the end of their portion of the work was completed on 12/2.
Mary Hernandez was out in the deluge, right alongside her husband and the rest of her work crew. “We were covered in pond scum and mud” she laughed, “Everyone in the community who walked by was so supportive of what we were doing…They want that area restored back to the beautiful place it once was and we are so excited to be a part of the restoration, a part of the history of this great park.”
In the middle of all that muddy mess a lot of people would have been tempted to quit, to pick up again after the weather had improved, but not Hernandez Sewing. “We were there to do a job” said Ed Hernandez, “and for us that means honoring our commitments regardless of what the weather throws at us.”
And that is tenacity that certainly did not go unnoticed by Jon Campo the head of the project “I am very impressed.” he stated to Hernandez, “if all our subcontractors did work like you have done, our work would be easy.”
For now, Hernandez Sewing/ Mission City Fumigation of Santa Maria have done their part to help San Francisco solve the frog dilemma. Also, they have built a solid reputation for themselves as a small town solution to a big city’s problem.
And the power of a good reputation is that word spreads…kind of like Killer Frogs…