Toadal bummer

Cole Gomes

ENTERPRISE - Frog Boy has been busted.

A first-grade businessboy was pitted against state game law last week, when young Cole Gomes, 6, was told that his lucrative frog-selling venture is illegal.

"They said the frogs are on the endangered species list, and he can't even give them away, that they can't be taken off our property," said Julie Montgomery-Gomes, Cole's mother.

In reality, the frogs popped up on the state's protected wildlife list, but the effect was the same - the Enterprise-area boy's budding frog business was shut down.

The family got a call from Oregon State Police game officer Mark Knapp on Monday, Aug. 25, after Cole's business was featured in the Wallowa County Chieftain.

Cole was prospering and happy in his first business, selling frogs as pets, pond decorations and gifts. The prices ranged from 50 cents to $10.

At last word, the lad had made about $40 in the short-lived venture - but the boy's final tally may never be known.

"He doesn't want to say, now," his mother said. He was upset by the closure.

"Cole couldn't understand it. He was practically in tears all day," she said. "He wanted to know if he'd have to give the money back."

There was no indication that authorities planned to cite Cole or confiscate his business proceeds.

The problem arose after Cole took samples of his frogs to the ODFW. District wildlife biologist Vic Coggins identified them as spotted frogs, which are on ODFW's "protected" list and a candidate for the federal endangered species list.

According to ODFW administrative rules, "It is unlawful for any person to hunt, trap, pursue, kill, take, catch, angle for, or have in possession, either dead or alive, whole or in part" a long list of species, including the "spotted frog (Rana pretiosa)."

Coggins, who also lives near the Gomes family, said that the population of amphibians is declining, and the spotted frog population on his own property has been part of a U.S. Forest Service frog-study area.

Coggins expressed regret at the Gomes families' distress, but said it was plain that Cole couldn't be allowed to continue selling his spotted frogs.

Happily, Cole is back in business - but with different frogs.

Last week, he began marketing African water frogs, which he and his mom purchased at a store in La Grande, for aquarium pets.

You can't keep a good kid down.

Wallowa County's Frog Boy is back in business.

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