FOR THE PAST couple of years, various environmental groups have been concerned over the decline of certain frogs namely the red-legged and yellow-legged species that reside in the Sierra Nevada.

In the beginning, they were placing most of the blame on trout that have been residing in those lakes for years. Because of this unproven theory, the state Department of Fish and Game was forced to cut back on aerial trout planting in several of the high-country lakes that had previously been on the planting list.

There were even rumors that eastern brook and some golden trout were intentionally killed off during studies involving the frogs.

Now, as reported in a story in the Dec. 5 edition of The Union Democrat, an environmentalist group has filed suit against California, claiming that wind-blown pesticides coming out of Central Valley farms are responsible for the frog decline.

Does this mean the trout are off the hook?

I wouldn't bet on it until more years of studies are done.

THE DFG'S "Outdoor California" magazine is reminding wildlife photographers that the deadline for its 2002 photo contest is fast approaching.

All entries must be received at the Conservation Education Office, Department of Fish and Game, 1416 Ninth St., Room 1240, Sacramento, CA 95814, by noon Dec. 31.

All photos must be of native California species. Photographers should avoid people and artificial structures (fences, utility poles, etc.) in their submissions. For information, visit or call (916) 653-7664.

IT APPEARS that waterfowl hunters may finally get a taste of the weather for which they've been waiting. Duck and goose hunters like nothing better than rain.

Last Saturday's results from the public shooting areas were a little better than they had been, but still left a lot to be desired. Los Banos refuge led with a 1.60 birds per hunter average, followed by Mendota (1.43), Volta (1.40) and San Luis (1.30). Low on the totem pole was Kesterson with a .52. Merced posted a 2.70 on Wednesday, but fell to 1.33 on Saturday.

The current storms should finally get some birds moving south from Northern California.